Steelers AFC Championship: Dynamic Middle Linebackers

Steelers AFC Championship: Dynamic Middle Linebackers

Tom Brady got flushed out of the pocket on many plays and got pressured into a handful of bad decisions, including two interceptions.

To win Sunday in the AFC championship at New England and advance to the franchise's ninth Super Bowl, Roethlisberger said the Steelers "are gonna have to be as good as we've ever been". The Steelers and their opponents on Sunday, the New England Patriots, have had animosity. Comparing that game to Sunday's is as apples-to-oranges as it could be for two teams still in the same locations and bearing the same names. The Patriots have a culture, the Steelers have a culture.

The odds of Pittsburgh stopping the game to contest the ball pressure are in your favor if you believe that they will, but don't count on it. Pittsburgh will run them close but it'll be the Patriots who go onto Houston. How long will the longest touchdown in this game be? The Patriots interior offensive line is extremely young and inexperienced. Kansas City, by the way, was fourth at 45.6 percent. Further, Roethlisberger has been sacked only two times in two playoff games, and a mere additional 17 in the regular season, a new personal low. Butler is usually the starter at left corner, and that's where the former West Alabama star can be found stationed throughout games - except, it seems, when the Patriots play Pittsburgh, and the Steelers are heading to Foxborough with the assumption that Brown will have a personal shadow on Sunday. A dozen teams would line up to get the production he gave Pittsburgh this year.

Brady and the Patriots are a huge challenge for any defense.

The Celtics stumbled against the slumping Knicks, and Claude Julien remains on thin ice as the Bruins couldn't hold on to a three-goal lead against the Red Wings. The Patriots again went to the Super Bowl and won after beating the Steelers on their home field. (3) So Belichick having to make a decision about Brady's future is at least one year away.

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The Steelers outlasted Kansas City in the divisional playoff game and look to gain a measure of revenge against the Patriots.

Roethlisberger is also staring down a defeat of his own personal history.

Total: In an era where high-powered offenses rule, with two of the best QBs in the league going at it for a chance to go to the Super Bowl, I'm expecting a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair that Tom Brady will find a way to win. Yes, football is a team sport, but nearly all of the time (aside from a couple historically good defensive teams) it's going to come down to quarterback play.

"At the quarterback position, you get used to it, when you play games, whether it's the AFC Championship Game or not, you hear a lot of talk about quarterback versus quarterback because that's the sexy way to talk about the game, I guess". His starters in Bell and Brown are healthy and performing at playoff-caliber levels. But that doesn't mean Falcons coach Dan Quinn & Co. can't scheme ways for the Falcons' defensive team speed to make a difference in coverage or by chasing down Rodgers outside of the pocket better than Dallas did.