A matchup that used to see Tom Brady go up against Ben Roethlisberger has faded away, and the new era for both teams is here. The Patriots hold a 9-4 record vs the Steelers since the year 2000. Additionally, several playoff games went the Patriots way as well. There is no doubt that the Patriots (With Tom Brady) had the Steelers number in the 21st century. The new question is, where does this matchup stand now? The Pats are coming off of a very slow and lackluster performance in a 20-7 defeat to the Miami Dolphins last week. The Steelers on the other hand won an overtime game vs the Bengals 23-20. With that, let’s get to the Steelers three ways to win vs the Patriots on Sunday.
#1 Force Mac Jones To Throw
The Patriot’s quarterback Mac Jones threw for just over 200 yards with one touchdown and an interception against the Miami Dolphins last week. If the Steelers hope to keep the Patriots offense slow, then they must force Mac Jones into throwing the football. The Steelers don’t need to rely on their usual “Blitzburgh.” They should instead worry about stopping the Patriots running backs foremost. New England has a two headed running attack in Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. The Patriots will surely be looking to keep the ball and have long possesions on the road by handing the ball off to these two guys. The hope for New England is to exploit a struggling Pittsburgh run defense. That said, if the Steelers can force the Patriots into 3rd downs where they must throw the ball, then this will be a comfortable win for Pittsburgh.
#2 Utilize Chase Claypool in the Red Zone
The 6’4 wide receiver has shown glimpses of his elite athleticism in recent seasons. Yet, a consistent lack of targets has been his downfall. In 2020 vs the Philadelphia Eagles, Chase Claypool caught three touchdowns and rushed for another, helping the Steelers to a 38-29 win. The third year wideout is due for another big performance like this. When the Steelers are in the red zone on Sunday, they should utilize Claypool as much as possible. His tall frame mixed with his jumping ability is a nightmare for smaller defensive backs in the end zone. During Sunday’s game, look for Claypool to have at least one touchdown catch if not two or three.
#3 If Trubisky is Shaky, Turn to Pickett
No, I am not already calling for Pickett to start in the second week of the season. What should happen rather is that if the Steelers offense comes out sluggish, they should give Pickett a drive. Let’s say for instance that the Patriots take an early lead. If the Pittsburgh offense has been held in check for the first half, the Steelers should absolutely put Pickett in. Even if the offense continues to struggle, Trubisky could come back in. Splitting time between Pickett and Trubisky would not only give the young rookie some real game experience, it would get the home crowd going. Kenny Pickett is the fan favorite in Pittsburgh. So if the Steelers need a boost from the fans during the game, putting Pickett in would surely do the trick.
Final Word and Score Prediction
If there is anything that the Steelers have taught us after last week, it is that this game will be close. Pittsburgh has a knack for making their fans die and come back to life on Sundays. I predict that after the Patriots take an early lead, the Steelers will storm back and win 28-24. With T.J. Watt sidelined for the next six weeks, it will be a tough road for the Steelers. If they win on Sunday and improve to 2-0, that road just got a lot more manageable.
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