Welcome to Week 14, Bolts From the Blue.
Two of the NFL’s greatest coaches, Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin, each come into this TNF matchup on the back of potentially career low moments. The New England Patriots had a crowning moment to sum up their abysmal season when they were shut out by the Chargers in a 6-0 loss that was even uglier than the scoreline suggested. Not to be left out of this conversation, the Pittsburgh Steelers found a way to lose by 14 points to the 2-10 Arizona Cardinals.
Belichick’s Patriots are arguably the worst team in football during a season where the Carolina Panthers managed to trade away all of their talent to get up to the number one overall draft pick, pick the wrong quarterback and fire their head coach 11 games into the season. They are not only hard to watch but there is also absolutely no young players that you can build around, Mac Jones has been benched for Bailey Zappe but the talent around him is a worrying factor for his development, there’s no one to throw too and their only productive player, Rhamondre Stevenson, is going to miss a few weeks. Their defensive system still works without any star players but apart from that they’re a team devoid of hope and I think Robert Kraft would happily skip the next month of the season if he could.
The Steelers record might be considerably better however it is a complete phallacy; they are 7-5 despite being outgained by an average of 55 yards and outscore by three points per game. Mike Tomlin continues to show that he is an incredible coach but he shouldn’t have to live like this. Kenny Pickett hasn’t been great this season but the Steelers struggled even more than normal when Mitch Tribusky stepped in to replace the injured Pickett during their embarrassing loss the Cardinals. A lot of their offensive production has come from the duo runnning backs in Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren but with Harris questionable for this game, where is the production going to come from? Their defense has been consistent enough to keep them in games, they haven’t been as restrictive as expected but their ability to turn the ball over has been impressive.
To sum up; both offenses have struggled all season, both starting quarterbacks aren’t playing, both reliable running backs are out injured and both defenses under two great head coaches have been propping their teams up. This is going to come down to which coach will manage to find a way to get their bruised and static offenses to get to two scores. That’s all it will take to win this, maybe even one score will do it to be honest. The scoring outlook for this game is so bad that the betting total has been set at 30 points which, if it holds to kickoff, would be the lowest total since 1993!
DraftKings Sportsbook have the Steelers as 6-point favorites and if you suffered through that miserable Week 13 Chargers vs. Patriots game it’s easy to see why. I’ll be taking the Steelers spread at -108 and the under a historically low 30 points at -105.
Injuries to Consider
New England Patriots
Rhamondre Stevenson, Riley Reiff, Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte are all Out. Christian Barmore, Trent Brown, DeVante Parker and JuJu Smith-Schuster are all Questionable.
Kenny Pickett, Mason Rudolph and James Pierre are both Out. Isaac Seumalo, Elandon Roberts, Najee Harris and Mason Cole are all Questionable.
Here is how the BFTB staff sees this game breaking down:
What do you think, BFTB? Any of you placing bets tonight?