Baltimore Ravens: What we learned from Steelers/Patriots game
Neither team is an AFC heavyweight:
We already touched on this, but we have to really hammer home how crazy this is. Since 2002 (per edsfootball.com), there has been just two instances in which neither the New England Patriots or the Pittsburgh Steelers have appeared in the AFC Championship game (being 2003 and 2010). In that time frame, the Patriots and Steelers have met each other there three times (2002, 2005, 2017), all in which New England emerged victorious each time.
The odds even one of them will make it that far seem slim, making a Patriots/Steelers AFC Championship feel like a fairy-tale for 2018.
Both teams are full of warts compared to previous years. For starters, both team’s quarterbacks are showing signs of aging and aren’t what they were a few years ago. Even though both teams are well-coached and have talented rosters, neither team stacks up well against the current AFC playoff teams. Honestly, even some of the teams on the outside looking-in could give them a run for their money.
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All good things must end, but this fall from grace seems unreal.
The Patriots have fallen off:
The first of the two teams we’re talking about, the New England Patriots, may not own a bye week, let alone the top seed, in the AFC playoff picture for the first time in who knows how long. Tom Brady seemed to be defying Father Time annually, but it may have finally caught up with the 5x Super Bowl champ.
Brady has thrown nine interceptions thus far in 2018, tied his most since 2014, and could be on pace for double-digit interceptions. As a whole, Brady has looked like a shell of his former-self, a sight many of us never thought we’d see.
As for the rest of the team, they’ve all seen better days. The Patriots defense has been good, not great for a while now and 2018 is no different. Brady’s offensive weapons have also regressed, especially in his favorite guys like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman.
Bill Belichick can overcome a lot, as he’s the best coach in NFL history, but 2018 might be his “worst” yet. New England seems like a middle-of-the-pack squad in the AFC, and their Super Bowl chances seem lower than ever.
The Steelers are resilient, but not unstoppable:
The Pittsburgh Steelers had a very impressive win vs. the Patriots in Hinez Field, but it wasn’t dominant. New England seems to have Pittsburgh’s number more often than not, but on Sunday it was the Steelers who emerged victorious.
Pittsburgh’s offense remains explosive with their wide receiving duo of Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Even without Le’Veon Bell and now James Conner, the Steelers run the football as well as anyone else. With a good offensive line and defense, the Steel City has plenty to be excited about.
So then, why are we overlooking the Pittsburgh Steelers? Because they are their own worst enemy. This isn’t exactly a new narrative, but it’s true more often than not. For every impressive win the Steelers nab, they have a loss that’s leaves us all puzzled. That hasn’t changed in 2018 and it gives us plenty of reason to doubt them having a deep playoff run.
Come playoff time, Pittsburgh might have everything figured out, but that seems highly unlikely. This, coupled with the complete inconsistency everyone on this roster, gives us more than enough reason to have skepticism about their future Super Bowlhopes.