ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: Steelers vs. Patriots Preview prediction statistics to know for AFC showdown  (อ่าน 1243 ครั้ง)


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Steelers vs. Patriots Preview prediction statistics to know for AFC showdown
« เมื่อ: มิถุนายน 27, 2023, 08:11:21 pm »
The seemingly annual late-season game between the and has a bit of an interesting twist to it this time around: both teams are coming in off dispiriting lo ses. Yes, the Pats and Steelers still maintain holds on their respective division leads, but there's no question that these particular versions of each team are not quite as strong as they've been in the past, and that  Michael Taylor Jersey is perhaps exemplified by their records (9-4 for New England, 7-5-1 for Pittsburgh) and their recent play. More on the NFL The Patriots are coming off a very un-Patriots-like lo s to the , which saw take the second of two laterals to the house for a 69-yard touchdown as time expired. The Steelers, meanwhile, have lost three-consecutive games (to the , , and ) and they're lucky it's not four straight. Either way, this is just the eighth time in 15 years at Pittsburgh's starter that the Steelers have lost three in a row at any point, and the seventh time they've done so where Roethlisberger himself has started all three games.The Steelers will be looking to end not just that streak, but also their streak of five-consecutive (regular season and postseason) lo ses to New England, dating back to 2013. The Steelers will surely need to reach a higher level of play than they've achieved of late in order to snap that slide, but perhaps not quite as high a level as it's taken in previous years, given New England's own relative struggles this year.This should be a fun game. It always is. Here's what to watch out for.  When the Steelers have the ballWe don't yet know whether Steelers running back will be on the field. He has yet to practice this week but there's been speculation that he could actually play without practicing. That's not surprising given the game's importance to the Steelers' season, but it's also probably not wise given Conner's importance to the Steelers' future.If he can go, things change quite a bit for Pittsburgh, which will not nece sarily have to tip its hand, run/pa s-wise, if Conner is in the game as opposed to and/or . Ridley played eight snaps last week and ran the ball five times, while Samuels played 48 snaps, on which the Steelers threw 36 pa ses. That kind of play-tipping didn't work all that well against the Raiders, and it will work even le s well against the Patriots.New England's defense this season could mostly be described as "fine." It hasn't been very good, but it also hasn't been outright terrible like it's been in some recent seasons. They're OK against the run, OK against the pa s. They don't rush the pa ser very well but they've also never really rushed the pa ser very well. (With the exception of , who ranks 11th in the NFL in pre sures and is amazing.) The one thing they've done extremely well is take away deep pa ses, ranking second in the NFL in DVOA on throws at least 15 yards downfield. That's an area where Roethlisberger typically excels, and where he has had some incredible highs this year (117.5 pa ser rating on such throws, per Sports Info Solutions, fifth-best in the NFL) mixed in with some truly terrible throws.  He's been most succe sful on downfield pa ses when targeting , who is having an absurd season for anyone -- let alone a receiver who only recently turned 22 years old. Smith-Schuster has 91 catches for 1,234 yards and six scores. He ranks seventh in  Jayson Werth Jersey the NFL in catches and fourth in yards, and his 69.5 percent catch rate is well above average for a player with his incredible target volume. Among the 30 players who have been targeted on 20-plus-yard throws at least 15 times, Smith-Schuster has the fifth-best catch rate, per Pro Football Focus, and even though he's gone deep on only 14 percent of his targets, he still has the 10th-most deep catches in the league.Smith-Schuster likely has the best matchup of any Pittsburgh receiver this week, as he will presumably see a lot of J.C. Jackson, who has emerged as New England's starting corner opposite . (Gilmore is a near-guarantee to shadow , just as he has shadowed the top receiver on several other teams this season.) Jackson has been a pleasant surprise this season but he's not Gilmore and he's not , who will get the snaps in the slot against .  Smith-Schuster spent most of the season spending most of his time in the slot, but over the past few weeks has been increasingly working on the outside. Through Week 11, he ran 76 percent of his routes in the slot and led the NFL with 72 slot targets. In Weeks 12 through 14, he ran just 34 percent of his routes in the slot and saw nine targets when working inside. It began as a gambit to get him away from Jr. in Week 12 against the Broncos, but it's continued the past couple weeks and he's done extremely well with it. He should fare similarly well against Jackson, to the point where the Patriots may have to roll coverage in his direction, and that will put pre sure on both Gilmore and McCourty to hold up one-on-one against  Daniel Murphy Jersey Brown and Switzer.Brown is not having his best season, which is to say that he has merely been the best receivers in the NFL rather than the obvious best receiver. His catch rate is down and he's averaging his fewest yards per reception and per game since he became the Steelers' No. 1 wideout, but he is still capable of shredding man coverage and exploding for monster games. To wit: he has lines of 9-93-1, 6-101-2, 5-105-1, 6-74-2, 6-96-1, 5-117-1, and 10-154-1 this season. Those are your typical monster Antonio Brown games. Some of them have even come against really good corners like , , and .So long as the Steelers can keep Roethlisberger well-protected (a strength for them and a relative weakne s for the Pats), opportunity should be there for him to find openings through the air. Then, it's just a matter of him making the throws. Which has sometimes proven more difficult than usual this season.  When the Patriots have the ballThe Patriots, for seemingly the first time this season, are pretty much back at full strength  Jake Noll Jersey offensively. has been back from his suspension for a while. is now a few weeks removed from his latest knee injury. has returned from Injured Reserve. has been fully integrated as a full-time player. is healthy (for Gronk) and on the field.And yet, they lost to the Dolphins last week, the second time in four games they've lost to a team that is on the fringes of the playoff race seemingly only because the middle and bottom of the AFC are so ... ordinary. It was a different kind of lo s than when they simply couldn't move the ball against the a few weeks back, as at least the offense was scorching for much of the afternoon. numbers (27 of 43 for 358 yards and three touchdowns) were fantastic, Gronk was dominant (8-107-1), Edelman and Gordon were great (14-182-1 combined), and got in on the action with a deep score as well.New England's running game didn't show up, though, as Michel continued to struggle since his return from injury. In four games, Michel has run for 284 yards and a touchdown, but 133 of those yards came against the . Against the Titans, , and Dolphins, Michel carried 48 times for 151 yards, an average of just 3.1 per carry. The Pats have begun incorporating fullback in short-yardage and goal-line situations, and he's done well with those opportunities, but they'd presumably prefer Michel or Burkhead to get those likes over the long-term.  It's difficult to see the New England run game getting untracked this week, given the strength of Pittsburgh's run defense. The Steelers rank seventh in run defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders, as well as 11th in the percentage of runs stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage and sixth in open-field yards allowed per carry. They've faced more up-the-middle runs than any team in the league (as a percentage of carries) and done extremely well against them, and they've been even tougher on runs to the edge of the formation. They've allowed only 4.0 yards per carry overall, and they've held more than half their opponents to 85 rushing yards or fewer.That said, the Steelers are far easier to attack through the air (21st in DVOA) and they have particular weakne ses against tight ends (31st in DVOA ... hi, Gronk) and slot receivers (20th in DVOA ... what's up, Edelman). On throws to players lined up in the slot or at tight end, the Steelers have allowed 2,080 pa sing yards, per Sports Info Solutions, sixth-most in the NFL. They've also allowed 14 touchdowns and picked off only two pa ses to such players, giving opposing quarterbacks a 108.0 pa ser rating on those throws. That all sets up extremely well for Brady to pick them apart with Gronkowski and Edelman over the middle of the field, where Pittsburgh's pa s  Juan Soto Jersey defense ranks 27th in DVOA. will presumably handle Josh Gordon in shadow coverage and the linebackers and safeties will be tasked with dealing with and Burkhead out of the backfield, but the Steelers have done well in both shadow situations and against pa s-catching backs this year. (Though did have a big night catching the ball in a game the Steelers otherwise dominated a few weeks back.) What the Patriots do best, though, is zone in on a weakne s and attack it until you can't help but change strategies, and then attack whatever weakne s presents itself next. Against this Steelers defense, that just makes things too easy for them.  Prediction: Patriots 33, Steelers 24 Click here Click here Click here