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Playoff NFL: Pittsburgh Penguins (50) vs. New England Patriots (-6)

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers 
O/U :50.527.52
Vs.

Date: 2017-01-22
Time: 18:40:00

Generated from 10 Previous Games

New England Patriots
New England Patriots
SIDE :6
33.38 = 60.9

There are only so many ways to ‘skin-a-cat’…but there are many ways indeed.

Today’s method is a “call ’em as we see ’em” approach, and it’s mainly designed to get around the hype of what brought these teams to this point. This should help put the facts out in front, and keep the myth and magic out of the analytics.

Fact One: In the broadest scope possible, when we examine the overall yard-production of these teams’ offenses and defenses, we find that the Patriots have a very small advantage. New England enjoys a whole extra 12.9 yards on offense per game, and a whole 10.0 yards against less on defense per game. If we were to cap these numbers alone, we’d only give the Patriots a -0.5 spreadline. Compared to the -6 line that Oddsmakers set, this looks like a gift.

Advantage Steelers. (+5.5)

Fact Two: In terms of points production, Patriots enjoy a +3.1 PPG advantage and a +4.0 PAPG advantage. So on this point, again, we’d have to give New England the better price as only a -1.0 favorite on the spreadline. Compared to the -6 line that Vegas selected, this looks like a gift.

Advantage Steelers. (+5)

Fact Three: In the post-season, the teams with the momentum and the teams that have something to prove, typically stay warm and can actually end the “better” teams with the byes.  Last week, such was the case with the favorites to play in the Superbowl, the Dallas Cowboys, and such was the fate of the Kansas City Chiefs.

“But the Patriots won after their Bye Week, so what’s the point?”

Great question. Here is the point in case: Brady threw as many interceptions in that game, as he did all season, and the Patriots still pulled off a 34-16 victory against the post-season Houston Texans.

That is the class of team that the Steelers are facing. That is the depth and bredth of what they’re capable of.

If Mike Tomlin had Brady, this would be no contest; but, when it comes to Quarterbacks that can think on their feet and have the skill to achieve their vision, Brady is among the best. CFL had Calvillo when at his best, and NFL has Brady.

So yes, Brady had one of his “lesser” games last time out, but we have little to no reason to think that he repeats that performance this week. None at all.

Advantage Patriots. (+5)

Fact Four: Unlike Brady, Big Ben never has been, and is not an elite QB. This season, in particular, has been one of struggle for Ben. He’s had his moments this season, don’t get us wrong, but his low-points have been far too routine to consider that we’re guaranteed to see a Big Ben at his best.

In the post-season, he’s thrown for 3 Interceptions and 2 TDs. As anyone that visits us has come to learn, banking on QBs that have more INTs than TDs to cover a spread, is never a good idea. Why? Because they can hold a lead until the last 5 minutes, and then turn the game over in the blink of an eye. Brady, who threw for 28TDs and 2 interceptions all season, and Big Ben who threw for 29 TDs and 13 interceptions all season, are two completely different animals.

Advantage Patriots. (+10)

Fact Five: Who is on the losing side of the injuries?

Although TE Ladarius Green marked 72 yards in his last outing and will be missed, the Steelers still have TE Jesse James to help fill that gap.

LB James Harrison is about the only other issue on the Steelers’ defensive line. But aside from that, despite the ominous look of their players on the injury list, Steelers will be near full strength.

With the Patriots having issues with all 3 of their top Wide Receivers, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, and Matthew Slater, we could see some setbacks in the Patriots’ pass-reception. We could see issues of under-performance, but more importantly, early game re-injuries. While this could be a deal breaker, these are all seasoned vets, and none of them are hinting at anything serious going on, and besides, with Brady at the helm, it’s hard to think of anyone else better to find a way.

Other aches and pains that might play a factor might be TE Martellus Bennett with a knee issue.

Advantage Steelers: (+3)

Fact Six: Coaching. Mike Tomlin or Bill Belichick? Well that’s a no brainer. Mike Tomlin all day. You don’t do what Tomlin has done, at his age, without bringing skill and innovation to the game. Young dogs can show up the ‘trickless’ older dogs, and take the reigns. Bottom line? You don’t do what Tomlin has done without being a superior thinker and strategist. With that said, Bill is not new to the game and is well-versed on how to win. Objectively speaking, we have to give this an even steven, but we could be convinced to give Tomlin a +1 given his capacity to adapt and innovate.

Advantage Steelers: (+1)

Fact Seven: General impressions and overall instinct.

At the end of the day, while both teams want this championship, it boils down to capability. This is why everyone knows that Brady will win this straight up, but the question isn’t ML. The question is ATS.

Since the question is ATS, let’s bring in the ATS experts to see how these teams play in this position:

2:1 stats in favor of Steelers:

When ANY NFL Team (Pittsburgh) played as a 3.5 to 6.5 Underdog – After a non division game – Last 4 years – Coming off a game scored 17 points or more – Coming off a 2 ATS win: 14-7-1 ATS

2:1 stats in favor of Patriots

When NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS team played as a Home team – Last 5 years – During the month of January: 7-3 ATS

When NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS team played as Home team as a Favorite – Last 4 years – Vs Conference Opponent: 12-4-1 ATS

When NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS team played as a Home team – During the month of January – After a conference game: 10-5 ATS

When NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS played as Home or Away Team- Vs AFC North Division: 22-11-2 ATS

When NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS played as Favorite- With Total between 47.5 and 51: 7-3 ATS

When NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS team played as Home team as a Favorite – With 7 day off – Coming off vs American Conference opponent: 7-3-1 ATS

When NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS team played as a -3.5 to -6.5 Home Favorite – Vs Non Division Opponent – Coming off a Home win as a Favorite: 7-3 ATS

When NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS team played as a Home team – With 7 day off – Coming off vs American Conference opponent: 7-3-1 ATS

When PITTSBURGH STEELERS team played as a 3.5 to 6.5 Road Underdog – With 6 day off – Allowed 14 – 21 AGAINST in their last game: 3-8-1 ATS

When PITTSBURGH STEELERS team played as Road team as a Underdog – With 6 day off – Coming off a Win over AFC West opponent – Scored 17 points or more FOR in their last game: 4-8-1 ATS

When PITTSBURGH STEELERS team played as a Road team – Coming off vs American Conference opponent – Coming off 2 ATS win: 6-17-4 ATS

When PITTSBURGH STEELERS team played as a Road team – Vs Non Division Opponent – Last 5 years – Allowed 17 points or less AGAINST in their last game: 4-8-1 ATS

When PITTSBURGH STEELERS team played as Road team as a Underdog – Vs AFC East opponent – Allowed 14 – 21 AGAINST in their last game: 4-9-1 ATS

When ANY NFL Team played as a Road team – With 6 days off – Total is between 47.5 to 51 – Allowed more than 10 points AGAINST in back to back games – Coming off a Win over AFC West opponent: 6-15 ATS

It’s safe to say that in this position, the Patriots have a very strong edge. Competitive football brings out their best and makes them shine, where, the Steelers look like they’re not in their favorite spot here. Healthy advantage to New England here.

Advantage Patriots: (+6)

Steelers: +14.5

Patriots: +21

There you have it, Patriots cover by 0.5.

All that’s left is the chips and beer and the long wait until game day!

Good Luck!