The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the New England Patriots Sunday at Heinz Field and not surprisingly, the home team opened as 2.5-point underdogs to the defending Super Bowl championship, according to vegasinsiders.com.
This now now marks just the second time this season the Steelers have opened a week as underdogs as that previously happened back in Week 6 ahead of their road game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers wound up beating the Chiefs 19-13 on the road.
As for this Patriots, they’re fresh off of a surprising 27-20 Monday night loss to the Miami Dolphins. In that game, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed 24 of his 43 total pass attempts for 233 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Patriots offense also failed to convert a single third down against the Dolphins defense on eleven opportunities.
For the season, Brady, who remains a favorite to win the annual NFL MVP award once again, has completed 67.4% of his pass attempts for 3,865 yards with 27 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. He has also been sacked 29 times in total this season.
The Patriots leading rusher entering Week 15 is running back Dion Lewis as the Pittsburgh product has 607 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 117 total carries. Lewis has also registered 20 receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown this season.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who sat out Monday night due a one-game suspension, leads the Patriots in receptions with 55 for 849 yards and 7 touchdowns. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks currently leads the Patriots in receiving yardage entering Week 15 with 924 yards and 5 touchdowns on 54 receptions.
Defensively for the Patriots, safety Devin McCourty leads the team in total tackles with 76 while defensive end Trey Flowers leads the team in sacks with 6 quarterback take-downs. Flowers, however, has missed the Patriots last two games with a rib injury.
Patriots safety Duron Harmon leads the team in interceptions with 3 while flowers and cornerback Malcolm Butler are tied for the team lead in forced fumbles with two each. Butler also leads the Patriots in passes defensed with 11.
Sunday’s game between the Steelers and Patriots is a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game. The Patriots of course won that game 36-17 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Since Mike Tomlin became the Steelers head coach in 2007 his teams are 2-6 against the Patriots and just 1-6 against them in games that Brady has played in. Those records include the one time the two teams have met in the playoffs which was just last season.
In 12 career games against the Steelers, of which three were playoff matchups, Brady has only been intercepted by a Pittsburgh defense a total of three times. He’s thrown 29 total touchdown passes against the Steelers during his career as well. Since 2007, however, Brady has thrown 22 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the seven total games he’s played against the Steelers, including that lone playoff game.
Should the Steelers beat the Patriots Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field they will clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs. Additionally, should the Steelers ultimately beat the Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars ultimately tie or lose their Sunday game against the Houston Texans, Pittsburgh would lock up home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The over/under total point number for the Steelers Week 15 game against the Patriots opened up at 54.5.