Patriots - Steelers AFC Championship Key Matchups

Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown

" In response to Julian Edelman comment on the Brown video earlier this week - the Patriots receiver said "that's how that team is run" speaking of the Steelers - Roethlisberger defended his franchise".

The following day the Steelers traveled to Kansas City, Missouri, to face Andy Reid and the number two seeded Kansas City Chiefs who were favorites going into this game based on statistics.

If the Patriots lose Sunday, detractors won't just have the satisfaction of seeing Bill Belichick lose; they'll suddenly have an argument that his reign over the AFC over the years hasn't been all it's been cracked up to be.

It also requires us to believe there weren't hidden cameras filming practices in the Steelers South Side facility this week or that there weren't cameras hidden in the Heinz Field press box filming signals during the first meeting between these two teams. His team has lost seven of 10 in the series since he was drafted, going 3-6-1 against the spread.

The reason the Patriots won last week was not so much because of Brady but because Houston was completely inept on offense. They'll need touchdowns this week against a potent New England offense, and they have the squad to do it. Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell both had excellent games last week, but were simply unable to find the end zone. New England allowed a touchdown on 51 percent of opponent's trips inside the 20, good for 8th best in the NFL. 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' first Super Bowl win with him as the starter, in 2005 over the Seattle Seahawks, is widely believed to have happened in spite of him (Roethlisberger had a completion percentage of only 42.9, threw for 123 yards and had no scores and two interceptions).

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Of course, that would dismiss the 90s Braves-like affinity the Patriots have had for getting to these games, something the Steelers have not exhibited. "It's going to come down to which team is going to perform the best on Sunday and who makes the least mistakes".

"You've got to understand it's still football", said McCourty.

"I'm always the same every week", Patriots' defensive tackle Alan Branch said Thursday.

In particular he said Roethlisberger's calm in the pocket and his offensive line's ability to protect him helps him buy time to improvise. The Steelers defense stopped a two-point conversion with seconds left in the game that could have sent it into overtime. But unlike that NFC matchup, Pittsburgh and New England each play underrated defense that has been the key to them making it this far. The two teams also played in Pittsburgh in the regular season. "I think DeAngelo is at the point where, 'I just want to win".

"I will be bluntly honest here", Tomlin said. That's what great players do. "It should be good football to watch, and I'm pretty sure both Ben and Brady will be into it".