I’m writing this at 10 PM on Saturday because I’m not going to be able to actually write or watch anything Sunday.
Fangoriously, gelatinous, and um, linebacker: For the second straight week, top Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy will be inactive, leading to many questions as to who will be responsible for star Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell. New England’s two pure run-stopping linebackers are Elandon Roberts and David Harris (who is injured), but even so, both of them are inside linebackers, while Van Noy plays on the edge. Bell is a talented enough player as it is, but the Patriots will have to come up with a unique solution to limit Bell’s impact.
Talk Britt-ish to my kids!: Kenny Britt’s addition to the Patriots receiving corps has drawn many comparisons to 2016 Michael Floyd. How accurate or inaccurate those comparisons prove to be will be seen when Britt takes the field, which may or may not happen Sunday. If he does play, his presence will provide not just another player for Tom Brady to target but another tall body for the Steelers’ secondary to cover. Brady has played extremely well against Pittsburgh’s defense throughout his career, and the signing of Britt will hopefully benefit the New England passing game even more.
Real estate.: As seems routine when the Patriots play the Steelers, Pittsburgh, this year with home field advantage in the playoffs almost certainly at stake, is crowing. But just because a team opens their mouth against New England does not automatically mean they are predestined for a hubris-driven defeat, particularly in high-stakes or postseason games. Bill Belichick will surely be treating this like it is just another game, one where every player on the team has to do his job. Do that, and anything said beforehand won’t matter.
And now for the BSJ TUMS-O-METER prediction.
Considerations: 1) Playoff seeding is on the line. A win puts them in a position for the #1 seed. A loss may mean a #3 seed. 2) Have we mentioned injuries before? 3) Second shot at hats and t-shirts. 4) What’s up with Tom’s play? 5) The killer B’s.
Prediction: At least 1 case, maybe 2.