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NFL Picks: Predicting the winner of Steelers vs. Patriots, Week 15

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As the biggest game of the season is just hours away, it is time to put on my prognosticator hat and predict the winner of Steelers vs. Patriots.

NFL: AFC Championship-Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers vs. Patriots.

Just stating those two teams playing one another typically makes fans of Pittsburgh cringe, and rightfully so. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have owned the Steelers since the two took over in 2000, and it leaves a sour taste in fans’ mouths.

While some talk about visions of sugar plums around the holiday season, Steelers fans have visions of the AFC Championship game in 2016 when their favorite team was laughed off the field. And it just causes a strange, and undesirable, rage to take over.

The players and coaches likely feel the same way, and is one reason why players talked about circling this Week 15 game when the schedule was released, and Mike Tomlin openly spoke about looking ahead to this game prior to the Week 12 prime time game vs. the Green Bay Packers.

Throw out all the history and recent memory, and this game has huge playoff implications. If the Steelers are able to beat the Patriots Sunday at Heinz Field, and the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Houston Texans, the Patriots would drop to the No. 3 team in the AFC Playoff Picture, and be facing Wild Card Weekend with just two weeks left in the regular season. On top of that, a Steelers win would essentially secure home field advantage throughout the AFC Playoffs. If the Patriots win, the Steelers would still be in line for a first round bye, but would need help from other teams to claim the top seed in the AFC.

Okay, you want to know who is going to win this game, right?

This game has shootout written all over it. Both defenses have huge deficiencies, and both offenses are humming entering the Week 15 showdown. Could this turn into a defensive grudge match, despite what logic tells us? I highly doubt it, but it could be similar to Steelers vs. Cowboys in 2016 which came down to who had the football last.

In other words, which defense will be able to force the opposition to punt, and hold to field goals, the most? The Patriots have the NFL’s best red-zone defense, but I will put my money on Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers at home.

There is just something about this Pittsburgh team which hasn’t been seen for a long time in the Steel City. A grit, a determination and a purpose some have suggested has been missing the past few seasons. Well, they have it now, and I think the Steelers seize the moment and stake their claim at the top of the AFC mountain with two weeks remaining.

Call me crazy, but I like the Steelers to win this game.

Steelers - 37
Patriots - 30