By Danny Cox
Bill Belichick arguably has his New England Patriots playing better football than they have in years and they’ve had an extremely successful last decade. That is saying a lot and it doesn’t make things any easier for a Pittsburgh Steelers team that is dealing with an extreme amount of injuries but still managing to win a lot of games.
Unfortunately for the Steelers, they just suffered their biggest loss as Ben Roethlisberger suffered a torn meniscus against the Miami Dolphins in Week 6. It appears as if Landry Jones will step in to lead a Steelers team that still has a lot of weapons and is hoping to pick up one of the biggest upsets of the year.
Steelers Season Record: 4-2
Despite a number of injuries, the Steelers have won four games this season and have done it in very impressive fashion. They are winning games by an average of more than 20 points and looking like true Super Bowl contenders. When they lose, though, they are getting blown out and the loss of Big Ben is not going to help them any against the Patriots.
Steelers on Offense
The loss of Roethlisberger means in steps Jones who is going to be passing the ball to a wide receiving corps that is also severely banged up and bruised. Markus Wheaton and Darrius Heyward-Bey are both banged up. Sammie Coates is hurting and played last week but was held without a single reception. It could be up to Antonio Brown to make sure that Jones always has at least one person to throw the ball to.
Steelers on Defense
When it comes to chalking up a victory, the Steelers know how to play some great defense. They’ve held their opponents to 16 points twice, 14 points, and just 13 points. In their losses, they’ve allowed 34 points and 30 points to the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins respectively.
Pittsburgh has a lot of big-time playmakers who can get things done in a hurry and that could cause problems for the air attack of the Patriots. Brady will not find a lot of open holes with William Gay and Robert Golden stalking him in the defensive backfield. The Steelers are simply going to have to be on top of their game to contain the dangerous Patriots’ weapons.
Players to Watch: RB Le’Veon Bell and DE Cameron Heyward
DeAngelo Williams may be the featured back for the Steelers, but Le’Veon Bell is no slouch and he can turn it up at any given point. On Sunday, he became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 3,000 career rushing yards and 1,500 receiving yards. He’s a yardage-earning machine, and the Patriots cannot sit back and think he won’t run all over them.
Cameron Heyward is one of the most dominating defensive ends in the NFL and he has shown that with nothing but consistency throughout his career. The offensive line of New England will need to watch him and double-team him or the Steelers’ big man will add to that total of three sacks so far this season.
The way it looks on paper, some may think the New England Patriots will have no trouble with a Pittsburgh Steelers team that is dealing with numerous injuries. If the Pats play the way they’ve played all season, they should indeed be on their way to another victory, but they can’t back off and think it will be an easy win.