Russ Goldman, who authors the “Pats Confidential” blog on Patriotsfans.com, answered a couple of questions about the Patriots-Steelers game and gave a prediction.
Follow him on Twitter at Russ_Goldman
1. Why has Tom Brady been so successful against the Steelers?
I think there are a couple reasons why he has had success against the Steelers’ defense. First, I think his preparation and being familiar with the Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 defense is a factor. Over time he knows what has worked and what does not against this defense.
Second, part of that preparation leads to what I think Brady will do in this game. In the other match-ups Brady has spread the field and found the openings in the defense. He will probably force the Steelers to play a good amount in their sub-packages. He will try to find mismatches for his tight ends. I think he will also try to go deep on the Steelers secondary.
2. Have teams thrown for a lot of yards against the Patriots because they play from behind or is New England’s defense that vulnerable against the pass?
In all honesty, the Patriots defensive backfield is very vulnerable against the pass. The Chargers and the Bills really took advantage of this unit.
Devin McCourty has had a very bad sophomore slump, and he continues to be a concern. Leigh Bodden has not played well either since coming back from his injury. Patrick Chung at safety is the holding force back there, and continues to be the bright light in a subpar defensive backfield. I have a feeling the Patriots will be very concerned with Mike Wallace.
3. What do the Steelers have to do to beat the Patriots?
On offense, they need to really take advantage of the Patriots’ secondary. I would get Wallace involved early deep, and that would open up the middle of the Patriots defense. The Patriots run defense has been pretty good, and they could be difficult at times to run on.
On defense, I would try to get pressure on Brady as much as possible, and especially up the middle. If Casey Hampton plays, he would need to push Dan Connolly back into Brady. That will stop Brady from being able to set his feet in the pocket. The Steelers biggest challenge I don’t think is Wes Welker. They are going to have to figure a way to take away the Patriots’ tight ends.
Prediction: I think the game will be much closer than when these two teams met last season. I see the Steelers’ offense being able to take advantage of the Patriots’ secondary. In the end, I see Tom Brady being able to wear down the Steelers’ defense in the fourth quarter. I am predicting a 31-28 Patriots victory.