In what is being billed as potentially the worst game of the NFL season, the Steelers will host the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football.
Ahead of the game, I sat down with Taylor Kyles of Pats Pulpit to get his thoughts on the Patriots ahead of the Week 14 matchup.
1. This game is being regarded as having the potential to be the worst game of the season. Give me your quick take of how the Patriots got this bad.
Poor roster construction, lack of structure or support for their immobile young quarterback, and horrendous injury luck have been the headliners. I still believe Bill Belichick is a great coach, as evidenced by one of the best run defenses of the past decade, but he’s done significant damage to the offense as a general manager. Mac Jones was at the very least functional as a rookie, but now he crumbles at the word pass rush and his decision-making has eroded. It’s really a shame.
2. What are the odds we see Malik Cunningham in this game?
Slim-to-none. Given the team burned a practice squad elevation on Cunningham without playing him, my guess is he was supposed to be involved in the Red Zone. Unfortunately, New England never got that close to a touchdown. We might see him sprinkled in for short yardage, but Zappe stayed under center in those situations as well last week.
3. If there was one Patriots player who could take over the game, who would it be?
Christian Barmore. He’s always been talented and a formidable pass rusher, but he seems to have gotten stronger and more technically sound as a run defender. Barmore’s become a disruptive, every-down player who can apply quick pressure or overpower double teams against the run. Expect to hear his name a lot if Pittsburgh tries attacking the middle.
4. Who on the Steelers’ offense worries you the most?
Jaylen Warren by a mile. With Trubisky under center, it’s hard to fear the Steelers’ passing attack, though the Patriots’ secondary, specifically corner JC Jackson and rookie safety Marte Mapu, isn’t always the most technically sound. Even if New England continues their hot streak and dominates the run, I think Warren could do some damage as a receiver if given matchups against bruising linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley.
5. Alright, the moment of truth: DraftKings has the over/under set at 30- where are you leaning?
Under. Way under. Which is saying something given this over/under is historically low. But when you have two backup quarterbacks supported by strong run games and tough defenses, that’s pretty much all you can expect!