AFC Conference Championship – Free Betting Preview and Prediction
Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots -6 Total: 50.5
The AFC Title game is just as intriguing if not more so than the NFC Championship. Two playoff rivals will face off as the Pittsburgh Steelers make their way to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots.
New England went to Heinz Field back on October 23rd and won 27-16 against a Steelers’ team without Ben Roethlisberger. Landry Jones started for the injured Big Ben that week and did an admirable job against the visiting Patriots, but couldn’t pull off a victory.
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Pittsburgh comes into this game playing their best football in quite a while. After losing to Dallas back in November, the Steelers have won nine straight games, finishing the season with an 11-5 record and 1st place in the AFC North.
They shellacked a visiting Miami in the Wild Card Round by a score of 30-12. Last week’s win against Kansas City was ugly, but the Steelers came away with a victory, despite not scoring a touchdown. The Chiefs scored the lone touchdown of the game, but Chris Boswell connected on six field goals to give Pittsburgh an 18-16 win.
Pittsburgh offense has issues on the road, but it’s still one of the best units in the league. What has propelled them during this win streak, however, is the play of their defense. It’s been especially strong in recent weeks and is as healthy as it has been all season.
The Patriots – Continued Dominance
Another year, another year that New England is in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots built off their outstanding 14-2 season with a 34-16 victory over the visiting Houston Texans last week.
New England defense had no issues handling the poor Texans’ offense, but Tom Brady did have trouble moving the ball against Houston’s defense. It’s also worth noting that Rob Gronkowski is out for the season. He did play in the first meeting between these two teams and is a significant hit to their offense.
Betting action opened with New England as -6 favorites. There has been some back and forth movement, but the odds haven’t gone below -5 at most sportsbooks. Currently, the Patriots are -6 across the board.
Historically, the Patriots have owned the Steelers in the postseason. Both of their two Super Bowls won by Roethlisberger, did not go through New England on the path to a championship. That may change this Sunday.
I’m not sure I’m willing to say the Steelers will win this game, but they certainly have a good shot to do so and an even better shot to cover the 6-point spread.
Pittsburgh’s offense had a hard time getting the ball into the end zone last week, but I’m willing to chalk that up to variance rather than an issue with punching it into the end zone. The Steelers road woes are real, but they’re still racked up nearly 400 yards of offense against an excellent defense in a tough environment.
Kansas City’s defense is arguably better than New England, and Arrowhead is a tough place to play. I expect Big Ben and Company to have plenty of success against the Patriots defense on Sunday Night.
New England’s offense, on the other hand, is a bit more concerning. The Texans defense is excellent, but offensively, the Patriots didn’t look good last week. It was endless turnovers by Brock Osweiler that finally sealed the deal for the Patriots.
Pittsburgh’s defense is playing well and will make things hard for Tom Brady. Let’s not forget, this offense gets a severe downgrade without Rob Gronkowski in the lineup.
Take the points with Pittsburgh.
Pick: Steelers +6