The Week 9 matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots features teams at opposite ends of the "having a good season" scale.
The Steelers are currently 2-5 and bottom of the AFC North following last week's defeat to the Oakland Raiders and Terrelle Pryor's record-breaking 93-yard touchdown run, whereas the Patriots are 6-2 and sitting pretty at the top of the AFC East after they defeated division rivals the Miami Dolphins in Week 8.
So on paper this seems like the Patriots have an easy win right? Well hang on, lets have some bold predictions that say otherwise.
No. 1: Le'Veon Bell will run for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
For a team that is 6-2, the Patriots have been terrible against the running game, in fact they are 31st in the league in yards allowed on the ground, allowing opposing backs an average of 130.8 yards per game, only the Jacksonville Jaguars are worse against the run right now.
This is good news for Le'Veon Bell who has struggled in recent games, if Bell performs as well as I'm predicting then it will be the first time he breaks 100 yards in a game this year. Although the numbers don't really back it up, Bell has been a great addition to the Steelers' offense, and barring any setbacks he should have the starting position locked down for the next few seasons.
No. 2: Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger will both finish with less than 200 passing yards each.
Both team's passing units have struggled this year, the Steelers and Patriots are ranked 13th and 23rd respectively in passing yards per game. The Steelers' offensive line has been the cause of their issues and the Patriots have been dealing with injuries to nearly all their receivers this year. Both teams also have a great defense against the paasing game, Pittsburgh being ranked 2nd overall and New England 5th overall in yards allowed per game. The outlook isn't looking good for either quarterback in this matchup.
No. 3: Neither team will record a sack.
The Patriots have lost some key members of their defense, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo are arguabley the best two players in that unit outside of Aqib Talib and they are both on the injured reserve list. The Steelers have struggled all season to get pressure on the quarterback and have only recorded 10 sacks so far, tied for 2nd worst overall with the New York Giants. I will say that due the Steelers' offensive line the Patriots will be the most likely to bust this prediction.
My prediction for the final score: 24-17 to the Patriots, a healthy Rob Gronkowski gives the Patriots the edge in this I think, Big Ben will struggle against the Patriots' defense and will have to rely on Bell to get a running game going to help open some gaps.