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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Thu Jul 18 | 02:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Game Preview: Patriots at Steelers

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NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (9-4) at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-5-1)
Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018 at 4:25 p.m. ET. Heinz Field (68,400)

The New England Patriots will travel to Pittsburgh for the third straight season and for the second straight season in December. Last year, the Patriots defeated Pittsburgh, 27-24, (12/17/17) at Heinz Field. In 2016, the Patriots beat Pittsburgh, 27-16, at Heinz Field (10/23/16) and beat the Steelers for a second time with a 36-17 win at Gillette Stadium (01/22/17) in the AFC Championship Game.

New England will earn its 10th win of the season with a victory, tying San Francisco (1983-98) for the most consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins with 16.

SERIES HISTORY

The Patriots will travel to Pittsburgh for the third straight season for a regular-season game and for the second straight season in December. Last year, the Patriots defeated Pittsburgh, 27-24 (12/17/17) at Heinz Field. In 2016, the Patriots beat Pittsburgh, 27-16, at Heinz Field (10/23/16) and beat the Steelers for a second time with a 36-17 win at Gillette Stadium (01/22/17) in the AFC Championship Game.

This week’s matchup will be the 32nd meeting overall and the fourth straight year the teams will play int he regular season. Pittsburgh leads the regular season series by a 14-12 margin, while New England leads 4-1 in the postseason. The Patriots have won the last five meetings overall with wins in the regular season in 2013, 15-17 and the 2016 AFC Championship Game.

The Patriots and Steelers have squared off in the playoffs five times, including 2001, 04 and 16 AFC Championship Games. New England won all three matchups en route to Super Bowl titles. The teams also played in the divisional playoffs in 1996 and 97. New England beat Pittsburgh, 28-3, at Foxboro Stadium en route to their Super Bowl XXXI appearance. The Steelers beat the Patriots the following season, 7-6, at Three Rivers Stadium.

The Patriots are 8-10 all-time in the regular-season games played in Pittsburgh, but are 4-2 in the regular season at Heinz Field since its opening in 2001.

SERIES BREAKDOWN

INCLUDES POSTSEASON

Overall Record, 16-15

Home Record, 6-4

  • Gillette Stadium, 5-1
  • Foxboro Stadium, 1-3

Road Record, 10-11

  • Heinz Field, 6-2
  • Three Rivers Stadium, 4-9

Bill Belichick vs. Pittsburgh, 13-9 (11-3 with New England)

Mike Tomlin vs. New England, 2-7

2018 REGULAR SEASON NEW ENGLAND PITTSBURGH
Record 9-4 7-5-1
Divisional Standings 1st 1st
Total Yards Gained 5,162 5,305
Total Offense (Rank) 397.1 (5) 408.1 (4)
Rush Offense 118.2 (16) 89.0 (29)
Pass Offense 278.8 (7) 319.1 (2)
Points Per Game 28.0 (6) 28.2 (4)
Total Yards Allowed 4,842 4,301
Total Defense (Rank) 372.5 (22) 330.8 (7)
Rush Defense 113.0 (15) 96.9 (6)
Pass Defense 259.5 (23) 233.9 (12)
Points Allowed/Game 22.5 (12) 23.5 (16)
Possession Avg 30:48 30:21
Sacks Allowed/Yards Lost 18/125 18/124
Sacks Made/Yards 24/189 45/303
Total Touchdowns Scored 42 48
Penalties Against/Yards 70/559 92/837
Punts/Avg. 49/45.9 55/43.9
Turnover Differential +6 (10T) -8 (27T)

POSTSEASON PROWESS

If the New England Patriots defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday and the Titans lose to the Giants or tie, New England will become the first franchise in NFL history to earn a playoff berth in 10 consecutive seasons. New England can also clinch a 10th straight division title with a win and a loss by Miami or with a tie and a Miami loss. New England enters this week tied with the Dallas Cowboys (1975-83) and the Indianapolis Colts (2002-10) as the only teams to qualify for the postseason for nine straight seasons.

PASSING PERFORMANCES

Tom Brady has played against Pittsburgh 10 times in the regular season and three times in the postseason. He owns an 8-2 regular-season record and a 3-0 postseason record after three AFC Championship wins against Pittsburgh during the 2001, 04 and 16 seasons.

IF THE PATRIOTS WIN...

  • And Tennessee loses or ties, New England clinches a playoff berth. The Patriots can also clinch a playoff spot with a tie plus a Baltimore loss, an Indianapolis loss or tie and a Tennessee loss.
  • And Miami loses or plays to a tie, the Patriots will clinch the 2018 AFC East title, extending their own NFL record to 10-straight division titles (2009-18). It will be the team's 18th division title since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. New England can also clinch the division with a tie and a Miami loss.
  • The Patriots have a chance to earn their 15th division title since realignment in 2002, which is the most in the NFL during that span. Green Bay and Indianapolis are tied for second with nine division titles since 2002.
  • The Patriots can secure a playoff appearance for an NFL record 10thstraight season (2009-18). They are currently tied with Dallas (1975-83) and Indianapolis (2002-10) for the most consecutive playoff berths in NFL history with nine. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL to have made the playoffs in each of the last nine seasons.
  • New England will earn its 10th win of the year, tying San Francisco (1983-98) for the most consecutive seasons with at least 10 wins with 16.
  • The Patriots will improve to 108-30 (.783) since 2001 on or after Thanksgiving (regular and postseason). That is the best record in the NFL during that time by more than 20 wins.
  • Bill Belichick can earn his 16th straight season with at least 10 wins, extending his own NFL record. George Seifert is second with eight 10-win seasons (1989-96).
  • Bill Belichick will qualify for the postseason for the 17th time as a head coach, a mark that ranks third in NFL history behind the 19 by Don Shula and 18 by Tom Landry.
  • And the Dolphins lose, Tom Brady will lead the Patriots to their 10thstraight division title, an NFL record for a quarterback. It will also be Brady's 16th division title overall, also an NFL record.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR...

  • The Patriots offense is ranked fourth in the league in sacks allowed per pass play, allowing just 18 sacks on the year. Meanwhile, the Steelers defense leads the NFL with 45 sacks.
  • In 2017, the Patriots limited opponents to eight or fewer points in the fourth quarter in 14-of-16 games. They have continued that trend in 2018, holding opposing teams below eight points in the fourth quarter for 10-of-13 games, including four fourth-quarter shutouts.
  • If a Patriot eclipses 100 yards rushing, the team will improve to 51-1 in the regular season since 2000 when a player crosses that threshold.
  • With 300 yards passing against the Steelers, Tom Brady will reach 4,000 yards for the season, marking the 10th time in his career that he has reached the milestone, third-most in NFL history.
  • Tom Brady's next start will tie Peyton Manning for second-most career starts by a quarterback.
  • With nine receptions, Julian Edelman (481) will tie Ben Coates (490) for fifth-most receptions in Patriots history.
  • Rob Gronkowski has 7,816 receiving yards, eighth all-time among NFL tight ends, and needs 164 yards to move into the top five among all tight ends in NFL history.
  • With one touchdown reception from Tom Brady, Gronkowski and Brady will tie Dan Marino and Mark Clayton for fourth-most touchdown connections in NFL history.
  • With one touchdown catch against the Steelers, Rob Gronkowski will record the 80th receiving touchdown in his career in 113 games. That would be the fifth fastest in NFL history to 80 touchdown catches, behind Jerry Rice (93 games), Don Hutson (96), Randy Moss (98) and Lance Alworth (103).

BROADCAST INFORMATION

TELEVISION: This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Jim Nantz will handle play-by-play duties with Tony Romo as the color analyst. Tracy Wolfson will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Jim Rikhoff and directed by Mike Arnold.

NATIONAL RADIO: Sunday's game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio with Marc Kestecher calling the play-by-play and Bill Polian as analyst. Sal Paolantonio will report from the sidelines. The game can also be heard on Sports USA with Josh Appel on play-by-play and Hank Bauer providing analysis.

LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network’s 41 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.

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