Let’s face it, the two best AFC teams this year are the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. People can throw the Ravens, and Jets in the conversation but when push comes to shove you have to knock off one of these teams when it matters to be a true powerhouse. Last year in week 10 the Patriots travelled to Indianapolis to play the Colts on Sunday Night Football. The Colts won 35-34 in what will go down as another chapter in their storied rivalry. This week the Steelers take the Colts place, as they host New England on Sunday Night Football, and if it’s anything like last year’s week 10, then we’re in for a fun night.
You can’t focus on the ranks and numbers in the analysis of this game because there’s so much more to it. Bill Belichick needs no introduction; he’s the best game planner in the NFL, and he takes away the opposing teams strength and makes them beat him in their weaker areas. This may prove difficult this week, with Pitts strength being on defense. The Steelers D is making a very strong case for the best ever. Over the past several seasons they’ve dominated teams at the line of scrimmage, and this year they’ve held teams to less than 62 rushing yards per game and 15 points per game. The Patriots running game has improved since BenJarvis Green Ellis has become the starter. They rush for over 100 yards per game, but don’t expect much this week on the ground.
Talent wise, the Steelers are much better. Offensively they have a better running game and better receiving corps. Mike Wallace is a major threat to the young Pats secondary and he’s really connected with Big Ben over the last few weeks. On the defensive side of things, the Steelers front 4 and linebacking corps is better than New England’s and it’ll be interesting to see whether Brady’s movement in the pocket will be affected by his ankle injury that he sustained last week against the Browns. Pitts blitz packages are the most complex and well executed in the league.
Like I said earlier, Belichick takes away his opponents strengths. An area that New England can expose Pittsburgh is on the Steelers O line. Pittsburgh placed Left Tackle Max Starks on IR this week. He joins Right Tackle Willie Colon who tore his Achilles tendon in June. The Steelers are vulnerable in pass protection this week because of the loss of Starks, and the Pats will bring pressure to try and force Ben into making mistakes. In doing this, it takes away the Steelers deep ball which they love to throw with the speed of Mike Wallace. Belichick will employ this game plan to take away the Steelers strength on offense.
Patriots vs. Steelers Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
New England Patriots +5
@ Pittsburgh Steelers -5
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Patriots vs. Steelers Predictions for Week 10 NFL Betting:
Spread Prediction (Top Play): This is a tough game to pick. The Patriots were beaten by Cleveland last week (predicted by yours truly), but I don’t read too much into that defeat. Every year there’s a major trap game, and that was this years. Cleveland are the best losing record team in the league and New England were in a let-down situation coming off 5 straight wins and this week’s game in their sights. On 2 prime time games this year Pitt have looked great for 3 quarters. Cinci made a game of it last week as the Steelers secondary showed some weakness in the 4th quarter, while they looked merely average in a loss to New Orleans. Carson Palmer made some good throws in the 4th quarter last week, throws that Tom Brady can make throughout the whole game. I think the line in this game is too big, and I like New England to cover at the very least, if not win outright. Belichick and Brady are automatic coming off a loss, and although the Steelers might get their revenge in the playoffs, I like the Pats to walk away with a victory this week.
Game Total Prediction: The way Pitts defense has been playing this year, it doesn’t seem to make sense to take any Over with them involved. In all 3 home games this year they’ve allowed teams to score 9, 17, and 10 points. Conventional wisdom tells you to take the Under 45, but the play of New England’s offense and special teams has me leaning with the Over. Take the Over and don’t worry if the points don’t come straight away. I think it’ll start slow but open up in the second half.