X's and O's: Patriots @ Steelers
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots are coming off a mind boggling loss to the Dolphins on a last play miracle. Now the Patriots are heading to Pittsburgh, a very familiar place. The Patriots are 11-2 against the Steelers since Tom Brady started his career, which makes me nervous in this particular game. No matter who you are playing, its very difficult to beat a team every time you play them. Also, the Steelers are coming off of a four game loss streak, which also doesn't favor New England this week.
The Pittsburgh Steelers run a 3-4 front with a zone secondary scheme. In the 2017 season only one other team, the Carolina Panthers, ran a zone scheme more than Pittsburgh. The Steelers ran a zone defense 70.1% of all snaps. However, Brady has repeatedly embarrassed the Steelers defense. Brady holds a 70.8% completion percentage, going 207 for 282. Brady has thrown for 2,571 passing yards with 23 touchdowns and one interception.
Considering the Steelers run a zone defense the Patriots will want to use their strengths their advantage. The Steelers secondary is awful. It always has been, see the stats above. The Steelers run a cover-3 quite often, a cover-3 is when the defensive backs split the field into thirds. A weak zone in a cover-3 scheme is the seam, therefore the Patriots will want to use Gronk as much as they can. Gronk has played against the Steelers five times and has scored eight touchdowns in the games he has faced the Steelers. Which is the most by any player against one opponent since the 1970 merger. The Patriots should run Gronkowski up the seam, have Gordon run a slant with Edelman following Gordon and filling the hole that Gordon created. Below is a picture of a cover-3 scheme.
The Steelers offense has been anything but consistent. Since Le'veon Bell's departure, the running game hasn't been as affective. Sure, James Conner has done an incredible job filling in at running back, but teams aren't threatened by the rushing attack. The Patriots will want to run a lot of man to man against the Steelers. Im very confident that the Patriots' cornerbacks can match with the receivers that the Steelers have. Match Gilmore on Antonio Brown and put Jason McCourty on JuJu Smith-Schuster. While running a cover-2 with the safety's.
Todsy's game could go either way in my opinion, the Steelers have lost four straight games and the Patriots consistently beat the steelers, both favor the Steelers. Although, I think that some factors of the game go in Pittsburgh's favor, I don't see the Patriots losing two games in a row. Especially after a KC loss Thursday night. I think that the Patriots will win today, 34-14. Gronk will have two touchdowns and Michel, White and Edelman will all get a touchdown. I think that the Patriots get an interception as well. Giving the Steelers their fifth straight loss and most likely kicking them out of the playoffs.
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