John’s Well-Educated Guesses: Patriots vs. Steelers

So as I mentioned on Monday, I didn’t write this post last week because of my ‘real’ job.  That is on me and definitely not a good look.  I need to do better because I have a ton of loyal readers, and I owe it to be consistent with them.  Availability is more important than ability and all that.  (Most of all, because I’m pretty sure Jerry Thornton reads this post religiously and I’d like to impress him.  (Jerry – Hit me up lol))

Anyways, I don’t want to say this week is a must win, but it’s kind of a must win.  Last shot to test ourselves against a playoff caliber opponent.  (Jets and Bills at home won’t be much of a measuring stick in the last two weeks.)  We need to keep pace after dropping a bad one. (Worst regular season loss in this era?  I’ll take suggestions if not!)  I really don’t want to have to play on wild-card weekend.  It seems like we are getting healthy at the right time, and the bye would be huge.

From a high level, Steelers always seem to be in the final conversation of the AFC, but look like they are on the downswing after an impressive, long run.  We have seen rivals come and go, and it looks like the Steelers have seen better days.  They have lost the last three in a row and losing to Oakland in particular is a real bad look.  If the Pats played even decent on the road, I’d feel good about this one.  Too bad all four losses have been road games this year.

Big Ben is still legit but he isn’t the unstoppable force he used to be.  Injuries have stacked up and he considers retirement every off-season.  Antonio Brown is all world and Ju-Ju looks like a real solid find in the draft.  Problem is that Leveon Bell is not walking through that door, and James Conner is unlikely to play (Which will ruin my fantasy season.)  The match-up to watch should be the Steelers running game against the Pats big nickel.  It didn’t hold up against Frank Gore last week, but I think they will dare the Steelers to run.

Brady always seems to score a ton on that Steelers defense.  Before last year they would trot out that same zone-based scheme that has been a staple for so long over there.  More recently they have tried to play more man coverage, but Tommy always finds the weak link and picks on them.  I expect to spread them out as best we can.  Otherwise, you gotta respect the Steelers front 7 even without Ryan Shazier.

Prediction:  No mistakes – I think the Pats will have no turnovers and no head-scratchers.  Not saying there will be 0 penalties or 0 sacks, but they will limit the mental mistakes and play good situational football.  We all know that “Oh Shit” moment when we see it, and I think we avoid it on Sunday.

Prediction:  Run Defense shows up – After getting killed by Miami on the ground, I think the run defense will get its groove back.  I predicted the Minnesota running backs would combine for less than 100 yards on the ground and nailed it.  I’m making that same call here.

Prediction:  Jaylen Samuels scores 2 times – As I mentioned, Conner is probably out and my fantasy playoff opponent picked up Samuels.  He gets to slot him at TE which is the biggest load of shit ever.  He already had Damien Williams (RB for the Chiefs) go off for 27 points…WTF, who starts a third stringer in the semi-finals??!!  Anyway, seeing as my life sucks, I think Samuels will have a huge day catching the football out of the backfield and will put the nail in my fantasy coffin.  (We’ll get ‘em next year).

Prediction:  Pats win 28-21 – Steelers are never out of it with the personnel they have on offense.  I just think the Pats have a sense of urgency and a desire to avenge last week’s debacle.  Let’s focus on situational football and stay healthy.  The rest will take care of itself.