Tom Brady has been criticized this year almost as any other year of his lengthy career that will one day, hopefully not soon, make its’ last stop football-wise in Canton, Ohio. Until then, an argument will be made that #12 and Bill Belichick are so good because they are in the AFC East and get to play the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills twice each year. But what if he played in the AFC North? Against Big Ben and Joe Flacco? Well, the GOAT is 25-5 against that division, and we will see what he can do when the Pats kickoff against the 7-5-1 Steelers who are also coming off of a surprising loss that came down to the last play.
Here are three stats to look for when the two division leaders go head to head Sunday at Heinz Field:
Brady is 25-5 against the AFC North, and even more impressively is 11-2 against the Steelers in his career, including the playoffs. Pittsburgh is going to be hungry after losing to last year’s AFC Champs on a Duron Harmon game-sealing interception, and they also want to snap a 3 game skid in which two of their losses have come to the 6-7 Broncos and the 3-10 Raiders, and the other came after having a 23-7 lead at home against the Chargers.
When Tom Brady is under-center for the Pats, the team has put up 30.8 points per game when playing the Steelers. This comes with a 30-4 TD-INT ratio and a 113.0 passer rating, which is the highest passer rating against a single opponent of any quarterback (minimum 10 games). He also has a healthy Gronk, who in six regular season games against the Steelers has 39 receptions for 8TD and is averaging 110ypg.
There were zero players on today’s injury report for New England. This is great to see after Gronk had one of his biggest games of the year against the Dolphins, and just going off of the eye test took some pretty big hits. Edelman has been banged up and took some big hits as usual, too. Nobody on the injury report also means this defense should be prepared, as they have not been very good on the road.
This is a big test for the Patriots as it will explain a lot about what this team can do in a playoff-like atmosphere on the road. The #1 seed is still in sight but on the other side the Texans are right on their heels for the #2 seed so this week 15 slugfest will be one for the ages.
The game can be viewed on CBS and listened to on 98.5 The Sports Hub at 4:25 p.m.
-Johnny Maffei is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyBSBL4