Steelers at Patriots: Picks, predictions and odds

The New England Patriots will host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2016 AFC Championship. Here is the game preview, the betting odds, and a final score pick.

It’s all come down to this in the AFC. The 2016 AFC Championship Game will be between the No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) and the No. 1 New England Patriots (14-2). Kickoff from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough will be at 6:40 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 22. CBS will have the national broadcast.

Pittsburgh won the AFC North, earning the No. 3 seed in the AFC Playoffs. The Steelers have won a league-best nine games in a row, winning both of their AFC playoff games. Pittsburgh knocked off the No. 6 Miami Dolphins 30-12 at home in the wild card round and the No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium 18-16 in the divisional round.

New England won the AFC East, earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs. New England has won eight games in a row, besting the No. 4 Houston Texans 34-16 in the divisional round. This is unbelievably New England’s sixth straight AFC Championship Game appearance. That seems like an unbreakable record.

The 2016 AFC Championship Game will be a rematch of an October 23rd meeting between the Patriots and the Steelers. New England was victorious over Pittsburgh that Sunday, 27-16. However, Pittsburgh did not have starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger available. Tom Brady defeated Landry Jones.

Odds

Point Spread: New England -5.5
Moneylines: New England -225, Pittsburgh +210
Over/Under: 50.5

According to OddsShark.com, the Patriots will be laying 5.5 points at home to the visiting Steelers. The associated moneylines for the 2016 AFC Championship are New England -225 and Pittsburgh +210. This game’s over/under comes in at a combined 50.5 points.

Here are the trends to know about the Steelers: 1.) Pittsburgh is 7-1-1 against the spread in its last nine games. 2.) The Steelers are 5-0 straight up in their last five games. 3.) The point total has gone under in 16 of the Steelers’ last 22 games. 4.) Pittsburgh is 5-0 straight up and against the spread in their last five road games. 5.) The point total has gone under in seven of the Steelers’ last eight road games.

Here are the trends to know about the Patriots: 1.) New England is 5-0 straight up and against the spread in its last five games. 2.) The Patriots are 5-1 against the spread in their last six home games. 3.) They are 17-3 straight up in their last 20 games at home. 4.) The point total has gone over in four of the Patriots’ last six home games.

These two AFC juggernauts are led by their future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Both organizations have strong head coaches, elite offensive lines, and reliable running games. The turnover differential will likely indicate who goes to Super Bowl LI in Houston.

Given how neither starting quarterback has looked brilliant in the AFC Playoffs, expect both Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin to lean on their respective running games on Sunday. Belichick will use his three-head hydra of LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, and James White. Tomlin has the genius, unorthodox runner in Le’Veon Bell.

For this reason, it makes sense to go with the under. Add in that it will be a night game in Foxborough and that seems like a fair estimation. This will limit turnovers and minimize offensive possessions for both teams.

What this game will come down to is which team executes better in winning time. While both organizational cultures are strong, the Patriots’ is based on precision while the Steelers’ is based on emotion. There will be a play late in the fourth quarter where a player on the Steelers will lose grip of his emotions. New England will capitalize and never look back.

The Patriots will reach the seventh Super Bowl of the Belichick/Brady era, as Stephen Gostkowski sinks a 45-yard field goal as time expires. Pittsburgh will cover the 5.5-point spread, but will go back to Western Pennsylvania empty handed.

Pick: Patriots 24, Steelers 21

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