With both squads coming off of demoralizing losses, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers will both be looking to bounce back this week on Thursday Night Football (12/7/23). Get Patriots vs. Steelers odds, picks and predictions below as our best bet is under 30.5 Points.
Patriots Vs. Steelers Prediction
For many years, Patriots vs. Steelers was a defining matchup in the AFC landscape. The battles between Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger were frequent, impactful and even if they often ended the same way, more often than not, they were extremely competitive and high-level. These are, after all, the only NFL franchises who have won six Super Bowls, as the two AFC powers remain deadlocked atop the list.
These days, this matchup has lost a bit of its luster, but it still carries quite a bit of gravity. The Steelers own the AFC’s fifth seed by virtue of a litany of tiebreakers, which separate them from Houston all the way down in the eighth spot. They’re only a game better than the Bills all the way down in 11th, so if they want to make the playoffs, Pittsburgh has very little margin for error.
For the moment, they’ll have to keep walking that fine line without quarterback Kenny Pickett, who underwent tightrope surgery on his ankle this weekend. The second-year passer isn’t expected to miss the rest of the season, but he’ll surely be unavailable for this week’s game with New England. The Steelers missed out on a playoff berth on tiebreakers in Pickett’s rookie season, so he will surely be itching to get a taste of postseason play, but for now it’s out of his hands.
Mitchell Trubisky will be the one tasked with holding the ship steady, and his limited appearances thus far for Pittsburgh have not been too encouraging, as he most recently failed to secure a win over the lowly Cardinals after Pickett exited with his ankle injury. That being said, he may not have to do too much to get the victory this time- the Patriots offense hasn’t asked much of opposing units of late.
New England has scored a grand total of 13 points across their last three games. That has helped them become the first team since the mighty 1938 Chicago Cardinals to lose three games in a row while never allowing more than ten points in any of those contests. The defense has come along nicely and put in some good recent performances against bad teams, but the offense has fallen apart.
As bad as Matt Patricia and company were running the unit a year ago, Bill O’Brien has not been better. Benching Mac Jones midway through the game against the Giants was not the answer, as Bailey Zappe was promptly shut out by a horrible Chargers defense in his first start of the year. It’s unclear who will be under center in Pittsburgh- we’d assume Zappe, but rookie Malik Cunningham could be in the mix.
Regardless of who starts at quarterback, the Patriots are the worst scoring offense in the league, as they rack up just 12.3 points a game on average. The Steelers aren’t far behind, fifth from the bottom with an average of 16, while also sporting a top-10 defense by most metrics. A historically-low total of 30.5 might seem overkill, but with a solid defense going up against an offense that cannot get out of its own way, it’s appropriate- not low enough, if anything.
Patriots Vs. Steelers Prediction: Under 30.5 Points
Patriots Vs. Steelers Best Odds
The Steelers are favored by six points at home, or -245 on the moneyline against a hapless New England team. The total is a historically-low 30.5 points for a pair of anemic offenses and solid defenses.
Patriots Vs. Steelers Key Injuries
The Steelers are still without starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, while the Patriots are missing key defensive stars Christian Gonzalez at cornerback and edge rusher Matthew Judon.
Patriots Vs. Steelers Key Matchups
With both sides dealing with suboptimal quarterback situations, running the ball will be absolutely paramount for both sides as they look to create some semblance of offensive consistency.
Patriots Rushing Offense vs. Steelers Ground Defense
Despite the team’s overall performance on offense, the line has done a pretty good job run blocking; they’re ninth in PFF’s grade for that task, and around league average in offensive line yards. Rhamondre Stevenson hasn’t shown the burst he flashed a year ago, as his yards per carry average is down to 4.0 from 5.0, but he’s unfortunately injured and missing this game, while Ezekiel Elliott has largely failed to revive his career in Foxborough.
The Pittsburgh ground defense has been a bit above league average by most metrics, peaking around 10th depending where you look. As always, the run-stopping effort starts on the edges for this team, as T.J. Watt and to a slightly lesser extent Alex Highsmith have been excellent snuffing out plays before they can even start. With an ambiguous QB situation, New England will want to run, but it might be a tall task for them on the road against a solid defense.
Steelers Rushing Offense vs. Patriots Ground Defense
Pittsburgh’s o-line also ranks at or above league average by most key metrics, but their backs have fared a bit better than New England’s. Jaylen Warren in particular has been great, his average of 5.9 yards per rush is a league-high among qualifiers, as he’s built on a promising debut campaign a year ago.
Warren and Najee Harris will be running into New England’s greatest, and truly only strength. Their run defense ranks in the top five by most metrics, including DVOA, EPA, success rate and even PFF’s grading system. Safety Jabrill Peppers has been phenomenal coming into the box to stop the run, while linebacker Jahlani Tavai has been a breakout star in the middle of the field.