NFL Expert Picks: Who they like in Steelers vs. Patriots AFC Championship game

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, two of the most dominant AFC teams in the last decade and a half, are about to square off again in the postseason, but not just a usual playoff game — the AFC Championship game.

With a spot in Super Bowl 51 on the line, Las Vegas is leaning towards New England, the home team, when it comes to the odds in this matchup. The opening line had the Patriots as 5-point favorites, and the line has gone up to 6-point favorites for the championship game.

Now, fans should realize this isn’t Las Vegas predicting the winner, but simply trying to move money. They want fans to take the Steelers getting 6-points, and t is highly unlikely the sports books would increase the spread to a touchdown difference between these two teams. The Steelers have won 9-games in a row for a reason, and should be able to match up well against the Patriots. Not guaranteeing a victory for the black and gold, but the ability to keep it close.

With Vegas showing the Patriots love, what about the experts who submit weekly picks for every week/round of the playoffs? Let’s take a look who they like in this AFC grudge match.

In what has been a rarity throughout the Steelers’ current winning streak, Pittsburgh is not the team most experts are taking. Before fans in the 412 area code start running for the nearest bridge, there were plenty of experts who like the black and gold in this matchup, but not one website showed the majority of their experts taking the Steelers.

Here at SB Nation, 3 of the 8 experts like the Steelers, while only one 1 of the 5 experts at FOX Sports thinks the Steelers can go into Gillette Stadium and be victorious. The Patriots love doesn’t stop there. ESPN’s expert panel is all in for the Pats, except for two, one of them being former Steelers running back Merril Hoge. At CBS Sports, like SB Nation, 3 of the 8 experts think Pittsburgh will punch their ticket to Super Bowl 51.

These are only 4 sites, what about those other experts across the internet who are making selections? Our friends at NFL Pick Watch, a website which takes all NFL expert picks and puts them into one easy-to-read graph, breaks it down for us. As of midday Saturday, 78-percent of the experts were taking New England to hold serve and advance to the Super Bowl once again. This is the first time this postseason the Steelers haven’t had more than 50-percent of the expert picks heading into a game.

Pittsburgh has long been a team who clings to the underdog role. Backs against the wall, all there is left to do is to come out swinging. And that is exactly what will happen on Sunday evening in the AFC Championship game. Vegas likes the Patriots, and the experts are leaning their way too, but there is a reason why they play the game.

Comments

Odds

Well of course the Steelers can’t go to Foxboro and win a game. What are we thinking, the clock has already struck 12 and carriage has already turned back into a pumpkin. Seriously though, Ben is going to have to have the best road game of the year up there. I believe he will do just that on Sunday. I have concerns on our Defense, even though they have been playing well, there have been too many times when the Offense has been stagnant and we need just one more stop and they give up points. We got bailed out by a holding call last week. The last thing I want to see is the Steelers up by 3 or 4 with 1:30 left in the game and our Defense has to win the game. I would much rather see our Offense have to win it than our Defense. All that being said, hopefully our play calling will be better, you know like not having 5 WRs on 3rd and 2 and we have the best back and top O-Lines in the league. Let’s be smart about it… Just my 2 cents…

We did not get "bailed out on a holding call". 92 made a play that their guy couldn’t match and so he had to go outside the rules.

It was a hold….not disputing the call. However, in my estimation it shouldn’t have come down to that…..I am very happy it happened, the point I am making is, when can our Defense bow their back and deny an offense from scoring points when it absolutely has to be done. You know that very last drive…I would love to see our Defense shut the door for once. That’s all I’m saying….

They did shut the door. They kept two points off the board when it mattered most. You literally got what you asked for.

Well, what I wanted was a stop on the previous 4th down on that drive…what I really wanted was no TD so the 2pt wasn’t even in play. That’s the Defense I want….I don’t want it to come down to any one play after a TD was given up. How about they stop them on 4th down, all else would have been academic. It’s all good we won, as Tomlin would say, "It wasn’t perfect, but we got out of the stadium.." It would do my blood pressure and heart some good if it didn’t always come down to the Defense and a must stop drive…I want soooo badly for them to shut Brady down, it just burns me up inside….just one time, one game shut everybody up to leave no misunderstanding as to who we are on the football field. Dominate performance like Miami and/or New York(Giants). One can dream….

Not to mention, even if KC converts that, we get the ball back with almost 3 minutes left and all 3 timeouts left. KC wouldn’t be squib kicking, so we likely don’t get pinned deep either.

In what universe is that not a hold?

If pats fans think we got away with a hold then I better not hear them all complaining like they always do when anyone even touches precious little Brady

Melvind007 has a point

Yes, it was definitely holding, and that holding call sealed the win. But, If anybody here thinks the refs call that same penalty, against the Pats, in New England, they’re crazy. We like to think refs make the same calls all the time. But they don’t. For example, On that last pass play of the Packers-Cowboys game, in which Rodgers made that great pass to Cook, there was an obvious hold that was not called. The issue isn’t about getting "bailed out," it’s about whether the refs will throw the flag. And you can be sure, that in the same situation on Sunday, they won’t. The team needs to be sure not to put itself in a situation where it is relying on the refs to make the [right] call.

The referees let a lot of holding go

but they almost always call holding when the O-lineman tackles the defender.

Tell you what

I’m not a betting man, but I’ll give you 50:1 odds that we and NE* don’t have the same game as last Sunday and find the opponent trying a two point conversion to tie with a couple minutes left on the clock, and hope for a holding call to negate the first successful attempt.

I cannot, however, guarantee that penalties won’t play some role.

I've been hard on Ben this year...and he's deserved it!

But He rises to the occasion and plays his best. The Pats won’t be able to handle It. (let alone LB and AB)
The defense plays adequately and The Burgh wins! (going away at the end I might add)
HERE WE GO!

We need 4th qtr against the Ravens Ben but all game long.

23-20 Steelers

Key to the game: Time of Possession. Our O-Line is dominating right now. Patriots have a very stout run defense (allowing 3.9 yards/rush), but I still believe Steelers have matchup advantages across the board (particularly the right side) and will allow Bell to have another great game while KEEPING BRADY OFF THE FIELD.

Pats O thrives on creating mismatches and Brady is the best in the league at exploiting them. However, this year I think the weakest link on our D is significantly better than in years past, and it will be more difficult for Brady to find the mismatch. Pats don’t have a great outside WR and I think Burns will hold his own against any of them. Gay on Edelman will be a great matchup to watch. Steelers NEED to find a way to put pressure on Brady and I think it will come up the middle (where the Pats O-line is a bit weaker) by means of Tuitt, Hargrave or a blitzing Timmons. Additionally, without Gronk, I think Shazier will be the best athlete on the field during Pats possessions and will create a turnover.

In a lower scoring game then most are predicting, the team with the better 3rd down conversion rate will control the clock and ultimately win. Bell’s early down runs will give the Steelers the edge on 3rd downs, and I think Ben will step up and opt for the conservative 3rd down conversion option to James, Rogers, etc rather than going for the home run like we’ve seen a lot this year (…but in Ben we trust). Gonna be a hell of a game.

I agree, how Ben goes….So go the Steelers….OLine has yet again something to prove….

Edelman will eat Gay for lunch all day

I don’t like that matchup for us at all.

A lot of folks are really down on Ben

But of the two QB’s who will start tomorrow, Roethlsiberger had the better game last week.

True. Brady was about 50%

and that includes the 2nd half when the Texans DBs forgot how to cover.

I like our chances.

And I usually don’t think that against the Pats. We have more weapons in O and a D that has gained some swagger.

31-27 Steelers

Let’s do this

I take that bet.

Two Guarantees

1. Brady gets hit a bunch
2. Stillers get flagged a bunch for roughing the passer.

I’ll take it.

If you don’t hit him he will prb. complete a 15 yd. pass anyway. I hope the Steelers take their pound of flesh.

ESPN is nothing more than a boston mouthpiece

Football, baseball, doesn’t matter.

I mean they are in Bristol, CT

that’s basically NE

what!!?

lol. bspn is one of the biggest reasons deflate gate blew up the way it did. mortenson and his bs tweet, that to this day he never retracted or apologized for even when it was proven false and marc brunell crying on tv about Brady lol. bspn throws mad shade at the Pats and Brady.. there are a few analysts on there that respect the Pats and give praise when it’s due but bspn as a network doesn’t fuck wit the Pats and most Pats fans don’t fuck wit bspn.

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