The New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, January 22nd in the AFC Championship Game. This will be a rematch from an October 23rd meeting in which the Patriots won 27-16 at Heinz Field as 7.5-point favorites. It was the third straight victory for the Patriots in this series.
New England (15-2) beat Houston 34-16 as 16-point favorites in the Divisional Round last week. It wasn’t the best game of Tom Brady’s career, but Dion Lewis picked up the slack with three touchdowns scored with one rushing, one receiving and one in the return game.
Pittsburgh (13-5) became the first team in NFL history to not score a touchdown and to give up at least two touchdowns and win the game last week. The Steelers kicked six field goals, but it was just good enough to beat the Chiefs 18-16. They stopped a two-point conversion that would have tied it late, and the offense sealed the deal with clutch first down on their ensuing drive.
Kickoff inside Gillette Stadium is set for 6:40 EST Sunday night with CBS providing the television coverage. According to the latest NFL lines, New England is a 6-point favorite over Pittsburgh with a total set of 51 points.
The Steelers have made me a lot of money down the stretch as they’ve consistently been undervalued, and I’m not about to buck them now. I think they are once again showing great value in the AFC Championship Game as 6-point underdogs to the New England Patriots.
Pittsburgh has now gone 9-0 SU & 7-1-1 ATS in its last nine games overall. Not only have the Steelers been winning on the scoreboard, they’ve been dominating the box scores as well, which is the sign of a legitimate team. They have actually outgained 11 of their last 12 opponents which dates back to their 16-27 loss to the Patriots. The only exception was against Cleveland in Week 17 where they rested their starters with nothing to play for.
And that loss to the Patriots was much closer than the final score. The Steelers outgained them 375 to 362 for the game. Keep in mind that the Steelers were playing without Ben Roethlisberger in that game, and having him back healthy is going to make all the difference in the rematch, as we’ve seen down the stretch during this nine-game winning streak.
I think the Patriots are one of the most overvalued teams in the NFL. Tom Brady is having a quality season, but he was not sharp at all against the Texans as he went 18-of-38 passing and threw two interceptions. The problem was that the Texans have one of the worst offenses in the NFL and couldn’t take advantage. The Patriots won’t have that luxury this week.
One of the most underrated stats about the Steelers has been their defense, which has been dominant in the second half of the season. They have given up just 16.6 points per game during their nine-game winning streak.
One of the most common stats out there is that the Patriots lead the NFL in scoring defense. Well, that stat is fraudulent. That’s because the Patriots faced the league’s 32nd-ranked slate of offenses in the NFL this season. They played terrible offenses all season, and didn’t have to face the Steelers with Roethlisberger when they played them.
One of the most underrated stats about the Steelers has been their defense, which has been dominant in the second half of the season. They have given up just 16.6 points per game during their nine-game winning streak. The difference has been inserting James Harrison into the starting lineup, and getting a healthy Bud Dupree back. The Steelers have the best pass rush of any team left in the playoffs, which is the key to stopping the Patriots.
Pittsburgh is 27-13 ATS in its last 40 games when revenging a home loss vs. opponent. The Steelers are 56-27 ATS in their last 83 games vs. excellent passing teams that average 7 or more yards per attempt. Pittsburgh is 39-19 ATS in its last 58 games vs. a team with a winning percentage great than 75%. The Steelers are 21-7-2 ATS in their last 30 road games vs. a team with a winning home record. Pittsburgh is 5-0 ATS in its last five road games. The underdog is 10-4 ATS in the last 14 meetings.