A huge night in the NFL as the Conference Finals take place. Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) picks out the best bets for us.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots | Sunday 23:40 | Sky Sports 1
Never bet against the Patriots. I’ve written that so many times here. I might need your help guys, because I think I’m about to bet against the Patriots.
This game is no less difficult than the first match on Sunday. In truth both games could go either way. I won’t hold it against you if you disagree with me twice. This NFL season has really been very kind to us. The best four quarterbacks in the game today are on show on Sunday and they are all a pleasure to watch as they go about their business.
Tom Brady plays his 11th Championship game. He’s won 17 playoff games and in tandem with head coach Bill Bellichick is 16-3 at home in the post season and the owner of four Super Bowl rings. A truly amazing career, even if I think Rodgers is a better passer.
Anyway, back to Brady and he has owned the Steelers. He really has. He is 9-2 against them and against teams coached by Mike Tomlin has a record of 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Brady has beat up the Steelers like no other team he’s faced. Those numbers include a 27-16 win in Week 7, although he was playing Landry Jones and not the injured Ben Roethlisberger.
Both these teams, like the two in the NFC game come into this in great form. Both are unbeaten since Week 10 and since November 4th are a combined 17-0.
Pittsburgh have looked particularly sharp since they managed to start Brown, Bell and Big Ben together. This will be the first time all three have stepped on to the field together against New England.
It is Bell that has led Pittsburgh to this stage of the season. Two post season appearance have brought him a combined 337 yards on the ground and don’t be in any doubt, he could beat the Patriots on his own. He’s that good.
The concern for Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Hailey will be that New England’s run defence was the 3rd best in the NFL this season. In fact they have not allowed a runner to go over 90 yards in 24 games.
David Johnson, LeSean McCoy and Jay Ajayi have averaged just 75 yards against this unit. I have struggled with this as I really wanted to keep riding on Bell, he’s won for us a lot recently but New England really do know how to stop runners. Even if they are potentially the best one the game has ever seen.
Hailey will need to be more expansive to succeed here. Antonio Brown certainly won’t have it easy against Malcolm Butler but Roethlisberger is more than capable of stretching plays and finding the likes of Tight End, Jesse James. My good friend @gazsax a Patriots nut thinks they may struggle against James in the red zone and he’s a fair shout for a score.
Ben Roethlisberger has the 2nd most playoff wins in history. Of course he faces the man with the most. Tom Brady is going to be the key to this game. It may not be in the way most of us think.
I was struck by how long it took New England to put the woeful Texans away last week. A key reason was the eight times Houston managed to hit Brady.
A year ago, Denver got to him seventeen times. His offensive line needs to be at it’s best on Sunday. This Pittsburgh defence has been playing lights out recently. 33 sacks and 19 turnovers in the last 10 games tells its own story.
I may not have the guts to actually say Pittsburgh are going to win this but I’m more than happy to get on board the, covering a six point handicap. If they can get their noses in front you can be sure the Steelers will keep handing it to Bell in an attempt to keep Brady off the field.
Can Brady bounce back from his worst performance of the season? This New England winning run has to come to an end one day. Why not today? I’m hopeful they can and after much thought, I have to stick with my man LeVeon to lead them to the promised land