Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will meet the Patriots in Sunday’s AFC title game. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)
The Steelers didn’t score a touchdown in their victory over against the Chiefs Sunday, but Kirk Minihane predicts they’ll have a big day against an untested Patriots defense in the AFC championship next Sunday.
In the first hour of Kirk & Callahan Monday, Minihane said he thinks the Steelers will ride their offensive firepower to an upset win at Gillette Stadium.
“New England has played one quarterback this year who’s good. They lost to him. The defense is good; I’ll grant you the defense is good. [But] who have they played since then?,” he asked.
Minihane is right: though the Patriots finished No. 1 in points allowed, they spent most of the season playing against the dregs of the NFL. They faced off against seven of the 10 worst offenses in the league, including the worst four –– the Texans, Browns, 49ers and Rams.
“We have to give this defense credit, I get that,” Minihane said. “But when I look at Roethlisberger and the weapons they have offensively, the way they’re playing right now, I feel like against this offense they’re going to go in the high 20’s, low 30’s. So will the Patriots, probably –– I don’t doubt that. But the Patriots do seem, offensively, a little banged up now –– wouldn’t you say? No Gronkowski, clearly Bennett is banged up.”
Roethlisberger has played well against the Patriots in his career. In eight games, he’s thrown for 17 touchdowns and six interceptions while posting a 95.4 quarterback rating. Despite those impressive numbers, he’s only won three of his eight meetings with New England. That’s probably because of the damage Tom Brady has inflicted on the Steelers during his illustrious career. His passer-rating against them is a whopping 114.2. (Brady is 7-2 when matched up against the Steelers and has never lost to them at Gillette Stadium.)
Brady’s history against the Steelers is one of the reasons why Minihane says he’s experiencing some pause about his pick. And if the Patriots do win, Minihane says he’s prepared to call them one of the best teams of the Bill Belichick era –– assuming they take care of business in the Super Bowl.
“If the Patriots beat the Steelers and then go on to beat either [Matt] Ryan or [Aaron] Rodgers and win the Super Bowl, finish the year ––what, 17-2 –– and beat Aaron Rodgers in a Super Bowl and Roethlisberger in a championship game, then this is a great team,” he said. “There’s no argument: this is one of the great Patriots teams of all-time.”
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