Pittsburgh has a potent offense with a lot of weapons. Ben Roethlisberger can approach things in vastly different ways from week to week, and the veteran quarterback has done a good job of spreading things around. He can turn around and the hand the ball to Le'Veon Bell, which he has done more often than anyone in football, or he can toss it to Antonio Brown, who also leads the league in receptions.
That makes life awfully difficult on the defense. Usually Bill Belichick identifies the top threat on the opposing offense and game plans accordingly. It isn't often when the top priority does a ton of damage against the Patriots.
But Pittsburgh offers an unusual dilemma and it's the topic of our weekly debate. Our Samsonite Make Your Case question of the week is: Who should the Patriots focus on, Le'Veon Bell or Antonio Brown?
PFW's Andy Hart says ...
Brown is a dynamic receiver capable of making plays all over the field. He can get deep and score and he can take short passes and do the same. If the Patriots let Brown get going, it will be a long afternoon.
The biggest problem for the Patriots defense early in the season was allowing the big play. That's exactly what Brown excels at, and New England can't allow the wideout to rip off 50-yarders and expect to win.
Bill Belichick knows this and he will double-team Brown throughout in an effort to make the Steelers march the ball downfield. That will frustrate Ben Roethlisberger and force him into mistakes. But if Brown is rolling, things will be much different.
PFW's Paul Perillo says ...
The Patriots run defense has struggled all season and Bell is a tough guy to deal with. The Steelers like to get him going and if that's the case they will shorten the game and keep Tom Brady on the sidelines. In other words, bad news for the Patriots.
As dangerous as Bell is as a runner, I'm even more concerned about his ability to catch the ball. Kenyan Drake did damage as a receiver last week for Miami, and Bell is even better. He needs to have plenty of attention from the Patriots defense, perhaps with a guy like Patrick Chung assigned to him in coverage.
Otherwise it will be awfully difficult to contain the Steelers offense if Bell racks up somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 yards from scrimmage. Get some bodies on him and keep him in check.
Now it's your turn to cast a vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll question.