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Steelers vs. Patriots preview: Week 14 Thursday Night Football, by the numbers

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the New England Patriots to open up Week 14. Here’s a look at what to expect for the Thursday Night Football showdown.

Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth (88) and running back Najee Harris (22) look at the scoreboard during the national anthem before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals on November 26, 2023, at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots will kick off the NFL game slate on Thursday Night Football in Week 14 — the primetime matchup that absolutely nobody asked for. Kickoff is set for Thursday, December 7 at 8:15 p.m. ET from Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA.

Here’s a preview of all you need to know ahead of Steelers-Patriots on Week 14 Thursday Night Football, including game Information, injury updates, odds and more.

Week 14 marks the 35th matchup between these two teams in the history of their franchises since their first meeting in 1972. The Steelers have gone 12-11 against the Patriots in Pittsburgh, having won just 3 of 12 games against the Patriots in the Mike Tomlin era overall, dating back to 2007.

The Steelers enter this Week 14 with a 7-4 record, which would grant them the No. 5 seed in the Wild Card if the season ended today. However, they’ll enter this week without their starting quarterback Kenny Pickett, who underwent ankle surgery Monday and is set to miss 2-4 weeks. In his absence, Mitch Trubisky will get the start, with Mason Rudolph working as his backup.

Though the Steelers have matched up pretty evenly with the Patriots offensively from a statistical standpoint this season, they enter this matchup not just without Pickett but also potentially without two of their starters on the offensive line with center Mason Cole (neck) and left guard Isaac Seumalo (shoulder), and running back Najee Harris (knee), all questionable ahead of Thursday.

Seumalo suffered his injury in Week 13, with backup OL Nate Herbig stepping in at left guard to finish out the game. If both Seumalo and Cole are both unable to go, seventh-round rookie Spencer Anderson could be in for his first snaps of the season. Both Herbig and Anderson got work on both sides of the line and limited time at center through training camp and the preseason, with their versatility having earned them their spots on the 53-man roster.

The Patriots, meanwhile, head into Week 14 at 2-10, holding what would be the No. 2 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft if the season ended today. Their offense has struggled on most fronts, with turnovers being a huge problem for third-year quarterback Mac Jones, who’s been benched in favor of backup Bailey Zappe several times this year. It will be Zappe who gets the start Thursday night, coming off a 141 passing-yard effort in Week 13, with 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

Like the Steelers, the Patriots are managing several injuries on the offense. They’ll be without starting running back Rhamondre Stevenson, dealing with an ankle injury, as well as rookie wide receivers Demario Douglas and Kayson Boutte. That means they can likely expect some steady involvement from tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki in the receiving game, while veteran Ezekiel Elliott gets the start at running back.

Steelers vs. Patriots: Head-to-head stats 2023

Stat Steelers Patriots
Stat Steelers Patriots
Yards per game 294.9 296.3
Yards per play 4.9 4.8
Touchdowns 18 25
Giveaways 10 15
Penalties-Yards 69-597 68-492
D/ST touchdowns 2 1
Points allowed/gm 19.1 21.2
Yards allowed/gm 348.3 310.5
Turnovers/gm 1.67 0.92
Sacks 34 24

Despite the mismatch in their overall record, the Steelers and Patriots are pretty evenly matched in most offensive categories, though the Steelers have a slight edge in terms of yards per game and per play. The greatest difference between these two teams offensively has been in their protection of the ball, as Jones’ issues with ball security had a huge part in his benching in the first place. Jones has thrown 12 interceptions (at least one in all but two games started this year) and lost two fumbles throughout this season.

The greatest edge that the Steelers have over the Patriots at this point — on paper, at least — is on the defense, specifically in the turnover and sack department. With a slew of weapons in T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Cam Heyward, Joey Porter Jr. and Minkah Fitzpatrick on deck, this team should, hypothetically, have the edge. However, they are dealing with several injuries that could have an impact in Week 14, including Fitzpatrick himself, who broke his hand in Week 13 (though he’ll be available in this game), and several losses at inside linebacker this season that are proving a significant hurdle to overcome.

Most unfortunate for the defense this week is the questionable tag for starting ILB Elandon Roberts, who’s stepped in admirably into a more significant role amidst season-ending injuries for Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander. Roberts suffered a groin injury in Week 13, and communication on the defense noticeably suffered in his absence. If he’s unable to go this week, fans can expect plenty of involvement from Mykal Walker and Mark Robinson. Walker wore the green dot last week following Roberts’ exit, leading communication on the defense, though it’s unclear if he’ll maintain that role with a “full” week of practice leading up to the game should Roberts miss.

Heading into the weekend, the Steelers are installed as six-point home favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, with the line not having moved at all since opening earlier this week. The over/under is set at 30 points — the lowest point total for a game in the last 15 years, SteelersNow notes.

59% of the point spread bets and 46% of the total money wagered on the point spread for Steelers-Patriots has been placed on Pittsburgh, indicating there’s likely some sharp money coming in on the Patriots to cover six points. Incredibly, despite a historically low over/under, the public is still backing the under on the point total, with 85% of the bets and 90% of the total money wagered on the point total coming in on the under.

All odds come courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. Odds/lines are subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.