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(1 Pick)

8:15PM EST: Steelers -5.5 (2 Units)

New England’s offense flat out stinks and they just lost their best player. Rhamondre Stevenson came down with an ankle injury and will be out for a bit. Ezekial Elliot isn't the worst back-up, but he doesn't possess the same playmaking ability of Stevenson, at least not anymore. It's up to Bailey Zappe and the league’s worst receiving room to move the ball tonight. They're also without their leading receiver Demario Douglas.

The last 3 Patriots games have come against the Chargers, Giants, and Colts. NE scored 0 points against the LAC 19th ranked scoring defense, 7 against the 26th ranked Giants, and 6 against the 27th ranked Colts. The Steelers own the 6th ranked scoring defense. The Patriots have also been sacked 4 times per game during that span and PITT ranks 11th in Sacks per game. They have probably the best pass rusher in the NFL in TJ Watt and another good one in Alex Highsmith.

On the year Bailey Zappe is 32/64 for 299 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He's also been sacked 7 times. If there was an area for NE to attack it would be the Steelers rushing defense, but the Patriots aren't very good at running the ball either. They're also without their stud running back. It's extremely difficult to see the Patriots sustaining a drive long enough to score a Touchdown. Would also be shocked if the Steelers defense doesn't score points for Pittsburgh one way or the other.

The most uncharacteristic feature of this Belichick led team is the Special Teams. For years it's been a staple of the Patriots but it's far from it this season. Just another underperforming unit in what's been a disastrous season.

Their defense has played well enough in recent weeks. Last week’s game against the Chargers offense was impressive but shutting down Danny Devito and Gardner Minshew doesn't say a whole lot. The Chargers are also experiencing a down year of their own.

We certainly aren't bullish on the Steelers offense, which you can recall from our pick on Sunday. We do, however, believe Mitch Trubisky provides a rushing threat that will come in handy tonight. With Kenny Pickett set to return and another more than capable backup behind him in Mason Rudolph, we fully expect the Steelers to take advantage of Mitch's legs. That also pops up with the ability to extend plays and make off-schedule throws. Losing your starting QB sounds daunting but it's not like Kenny Pickett did very much. Wouldn't be surprising if the Steelers were better with Mitch. He has more experience at least and completed 65% of his passes as a full-time starter for PIT in 2022.

Special Teams is going to matter, and the Steelers hold the edge there. Their punt-return game was off to a shaky start but after cutting Gunner Olszewski, Calvin Austin III helped settle that. Their Kicking Game is good. Clint Boswell is a good Kicker and Punter Pressley Harvin has pinned teams inside the 20 on 42.86% of Punts, 9th best in the NFL. The Patriot’s punting game has been fine, but their Kicker is struggling. Rookie Chad Ryland is just 12/18 (66.67%) on the year. Only Graham Gano has been worse, but he was kicking hurt and eventually placed on IR.

At the end of the day this pick is about the Patriots inability to score points. This is easily the best defense they've seen in weeks, and they have to go into Pittsburgh's house. On top of that it's a Thursday night game so they've had even less time to prepare than usual. The Steelers offense isn't great either, but they should get bailed out by their defense like usual tonight. They won't need to do very much.


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