The Pittsburgh Steelers (13-5) have not been to the Super Bowl since 2011, while the New England Patriots (15-2) have played in two of the past five and split them as they get ready for their sixth straight AFC Championship Game appearance Sunday as six-point home favorites.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
While the Steelers have not enjoyed much success versus the Patriots lately, they are hoping to change that and play for a seventh Vince Lombardi Trophy by pulling off the upset at Gillette Stadium.
Pittsburgh is riding an NFL-best nine-game winning streak into Foxborough while New England has won eight in a row, showing that the two best teams in the AFC are indeed playing for the conference title.
The Steelers hosted the Patriots in Week 7 of the regular season and lost 27-16 as seven-point home underdogs, but they did not have starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger under center because of a knee injury.
Roethlisberger’s presence is obviously a big factor as a two-time Super Bowl champion, and he remains the youngest signal-caller to ever win the big game. His team has lost seven of 10 in the series since he was drafted, going 3-6-1 against the spread.
For New England, four-time Super Bowl champ Tom Brady missed the first four games due to a suspension for his role in the Deflategate scandal two years ago, but he has led the team to a 12-1 record straight up (11-2 ATS) since his return.
Brady’s ability to play with a chip on his shoulder has rubbed off on his teammates as well, with reserves Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett performing well in his absence and leading the Patriots to a 3-1 mark SU and ATS. Running back LeGarrette Blount also set a career-high with 1,161 yards and scored a franchise-record 18 rushing touchdowns.
The key to this matchup is whether or not New England can limit Roethlisberger’s two offensive weapons in running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. While everyone talks about the Patriots offensively, their defense is very underrated, and taking away even one of Pittsburgh’s top threats would have a huge impact on the outcome.
The Steelers managed to advance past the Kansas City Chiefs on the road without scoring a touchdown, but they will probably need at least three to win at New England and make it to their ninth Super Bowl.