New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Predictions: 3 Crucial Stats and Matchups To Watch on Thursday Night Football

The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots meet on Thursday Night Football. While the matchup seems a bit uninspiring, there are stories to watch.

There is no getting around it — this game is going to be ugly.

On Sunday, the game in Pittsburgh was paused multiple times by a storm cell. While that doesn’t seem to be the case here, it’s going to be close to freezing, and the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers offenses are… terrible.

The Patriots have hung on by a thread over the past few seasons as their Hall of Fame head coach and general manager lost touch with each task. The roster disintegrated, and Bill Belichick’s hiring cycle for the 2022-2023 season was a disaster. Injuries made things even worse this season.

The Steelers remain perpetual overachievers. However, there’s been a mix of both this season. Their offense hasn’t been good, but Pittsburgh’s been in a position to make plays throughout and has failed. That comes down to architecture and execution. But with Kenny Pickett undergoing tightrope surgery, Mitch Trusbisky gets an opportunity to execute over the coming games.

New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Predictions

What does the PFN selection committee think of Thursday’s game?

  • Beasley: Steelers
  • Bearman: Steelers
  • Miller: Steelers
  • Morrison: Steelers
  • Robinson: Steelers

Patriots Offense Is on a Historically Bad Run

By now, we all know that the Patriots have lost three consecutive games. They’ve allowed 10 or fewer points in each of those three losses. No team has accomplished this… feat… since 1938. The rest of the NFL, on the other hand, is 50-0 when allowing 10 points or less.

The Patriots have been shut out twice this season, which is the first time that’s happened in Bill Belichick’s coaching career. Additionally, the Patriots have scored fewer than eight points five times. That’s the same number as Tom Brady had in his 283 starts with the Patriots.

MORE: Which NFL Teams Are Eliminated From the 2023 Playoffs?

And yet, the Jets and Giants each have worse efficiency metrics than New England. They have lower EPA-per-play rates and lower success rates on offense. But offense is at a low point league-wide at the moment.

Inside Edge tells a harrowing tale. The Patriots have averaged 33 drives per touchdown since Week 10, which is 9% of their drives over that period. The Jets, starting Tim Boyle and Zach Wilson and playing Trevor Siemian, are at 17.4% as the 31st-ranked team.

The Patriots offense has run 8.4% of their plays in the opposing red zone this season. The Steelers have the second-worst rate in the league at 9.6%.

T.J. Watt and the Single-Season Sack Record

T.J. Watt already holds a share of the single-season sack record with Michael Strahan. His comments about the officiating after the Cardinals game likely won’t help his cause, but he’s currently within earshot of the record he tied in 2021.

Watt sustained an ankle injury during the Arizona game, which likely won’t aid in his pursuit, but the All-Pro pass rusher is 8.5 sacks away from tying the record, making him nine away from breaking it. With five games remaining, it’s a tall task.

The Steelers’ remaining schedule isn’t terribly kind, either. Although Lamar Jackson and Geno Smith are the only remaining franchise passers on the list, Gardner Minshew has a low sack rate. Zac Taylor gets the ball out of Jake Browning’s hands as fast as possible as often as possible, and the Patriots would rather catch the plague than throw the football often.

Steelers Run Game vs. Patriots Run Defense

Jaylen Warren has established himself as one of the most exciting running backs in the NFL. Even as the second back in Pittsburgh’s arsenal, Warren has put the league on notice.

According to Inside Edge, his 12 broken tackles are the most since Week 10. He’s also been particularly dangerous on early downs, posting a 6.9-yard average per touch on early downs since Week 10. Warren has also been one of the highest-volume pass catchers at the position, despite his playing time.

MORE: Pittsburgh Steelers Playoff Scenarios and Chances

Meanwhile, Najee Harris has improved his production in 2023, but he hasn’t been explosive enough consistently enough for this offense. Nevertheless, he’s had a few impressive games as of late.

But New England’s run defense is unbelievable. Despite all of their defensive injuries, they rank first in rushing EPA and success rate.

With the Kenny Pickett injury, Pittsburgh will likely look to lean on the run a bit more than usual. But that thought could get them into a lot of trouble and put them behind the sticks, where Trubisky will have to get them out of against a Belichick defense.

Want to predict the rest of the 2023 season with our FREE NFL Playoff Predictor? Looking for the most up-to-date NFL standings? What about a breakdown of team depth charts or the NFL schedule? Pro Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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