Fresh off being completely dominated in Miami against the Dolphins (what a weird sentence that is), the New England Patriots now turn their sights to their biggest test of the year: the Pittsburgh Steelers. The winner of Sunday’s game will almost assuredly have home field for the inevitable title game between these two teams (knock on wood). While the Steelers do boast the best record in the AFC, four out of their last five games have been decided by game-winning field goals in the final minute, coming against the 3-10 Colts, the 7-6 Rodgers-less Packers, the 5-8 Bengals, and the 7-6 Ravens. This team is good, for sure, but I don’t think they are nearly as good as their record and their stats suggests.
The Steelers offense has put up the 4th most yards in football and 2nd most pass yards in the NFL, just behind the Patriots in both stats. They possess the NFL’s rushing yards leader in Leveon Bell, but strangely rank just 23rd in the league in total rushing yards (Bell has accounted for 85% of their rushing yards). Bell leads the league in rushing because of volume, not efficiency; he is first in the NFL in attempts with 283 (shoutout Atlanta), but is just 21st in yards per carry (of rushers with at least 100 attempts). The Patriots locked down the Steelers daunting running game in the AFC Championship Game, but, as Steeler fans are ever so quick to mention, Bell played just 11 snaps in that game, and the now-retired DeAngelo Williams was tasked with leading the Steelers rushing attack, which only gained 54 yards on 20 carries, good for just 2.7 yards per carry.