New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers prediction, odds

Published 6:28 pm Friday, January 20, 2017

By Barry Wilner/The Associated Press

Yes, the Patriots yielded the fewest points in the NFL this season, but the three best offenses they played were Arizona, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals matchup was in the season opener, when Arizona’s offense was not tuned-up. New England beat the Steelers without Roethlisberger, who was injured, and no one would mistake the Bills for a juggernaut with the ball.

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Then again, the Patriots are a juggernaut with the ball. Look at how they beat Houston, the top-ranked defense in the league, in the divisional round even though Brady was not at his best. And think about what they are capable of.

“I think we’ve just got to learn from it,” he said. “It was a lot of things, and then when you add our poor execution on top of that, then you add our turnovers on top of that, it doesn’t feel great because we worked pretty hard to play a lot better than we played.”

One thing the Steelers won’t be on Sunday is intimidated by Brady and New England’s resume. The only way to win at Gillette Stadium is to be aggressive from the opening kickoff, and Mike Tomlin’s team will be that.

Oddly, Roethlisberger has never faced the Patriots in a postseason game at New England. He’s 0-1, that defeat coming in Pittsburgh during his 2004 Offensive Rookie of the Year season.

New England is a 6-point favorite to make its seventh Super Bowl with Brady at the helm; the Patriots are 4-2 in their previous trips.

Pittsburgh, which has been to three Super Bowls with Roethlisberger, going 2-1, is the one AFC team capable of pulling off the upset. But it won’t.

Prediction: PATRIOTS, 34-26

Game time Sunday: 5:40 p.m. central

Odds: New England -6; over/under: 50.5