With the website’s technical difficulties now resolved, I can get back to the business of prognosticating. One bet looks solid this week: take the Patriots to cover the, now, 6-point spread vs. the Steelers.

Steelers vs. Patriots
Vegas Line: Patriots –6 points
Lazy Line: Patriots –10 points. Patriots are an 2-unit play.

A debate rages online and on TV regarding the #1 ranking of the New England defense. The Patriots faced one of the worst lineups of opposing QBs of any team this year. The argument is that their defense should be seriously downgraded because of that. I disagree.

In addition to being the most accomplished defense in terms of fewest points allowed this year, the Patriots defense is probably the best coached unit in the NFL. Sure, downgrade them a smidge because of the weak strength of schedule. That still leaves them superior to the Steelers defense.

Flip the sides. Brady is much more likely to consistently exploit weaknesses in the Steelers defense than Big Ben is to do the same vs. the Patriots. Roethlesberger’s road stats, career and season, pale in comparison to his achievements on his home field. Coach Tomlin’s record of abysmal failure vs. the Patriots also supports the view that the Steelers offense is unlikely to pinpoint and exploit New England defensive weaknesses. Tomlin is more likely, the record shows, to get suckered by hidden strengths of Patriots defenders.

The Patriots defeated 2016 playoff teams by an average of more than 10 points this year. Don’t sweat the 6. Bet the Patriots for 2 units.

Roger LeBlanc