This week’s picks…
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Steelers 26, Patriots 24. Game of the Week, obviously. Hard to pick against the Patriots, because of their recently resurgent defense (18.7 points per game allowed in the last three), but I do so because of Pittsburgh’s deep passing game. Between them, Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are averaging 17.9 yards per catch. I expect bombs away by Ben Roethlisberger in this one.
ESPN.com staff: Six out of 10 pick the Patriots.
CBS sports staff: Pats across the board.
Pete Prisco, CBS sports: Patriots 33, Steelers 27. This is the game of the week. Tom Brady carved up the Steelers last year in Pittsburgh in a blowout victory by the Patriots. That won’t change here. The Steelers have trouble matching up with the Patriots offense. Brady has won six of seven against the Steelers and four of five in Heinz Field. But I do think the Steelers will get their share of points as well. This could be a fun shootout. Brady gets the Steelers again.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 38, Steelers, 34. Roethlisberger comes into the game sizzling, and for the Steelers to have a shot at beating Brady in a shootout, they must let him loose. The Patriots don’t have the cornerbacks to handle all three of Pittsburgh’s young speedsters – Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. That should make for a fun, high-scoring game, but it’s tough to go against a Bill Belichick-coached team coming off a bye.
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 34, Steelers 20. Tom Brady, not Art Rooney, owns the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, it’s that simple.
Gregg Rosenthal, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 30, Steelers 24. Is the Steelers defense dominant again or have they just fattened their stats on the Seahawks, Colts, Jaguars, and Cardinals? I’m not sure the answer makes a difference. Tom Brady has a habit of shredding the Steelers even when Pittsburgh’s defense is truly elite.
Greg Cote, Miami Herald. Steelers 31, Patriots 27. Game of the Week committee spent about 12 seconds deliberating this one, adjourned and repaired to the Sword ‘n Swill Tavern. Pats’ No.1-ranked pass offense meets Pitt’s No. 1 pass defense. Tom Brady has put up 30-plus points in 13 of past 14 games, but stingy Steelers have won four in a row at home. Strength vs. strength, everywhere you look. Next win by Brady and Bill Belichick will surpass Dan Marino/Don Shula for most ever by a QB/coach tandem, but let’s put that on hold a week, shall we? Like Steelers’ defense and the home ‘dog in a venue call. Upset.
Peter Schrager, Foxsports.com: Patriots 33, Steelers 24. Sure, it’s only October, but don’t think there aren’t major playoff implications tied to this one. Tom Brady is 6-1 all-time versus the Steelers, including two AFC Championship Games in 2001 and 2006, and last year’s Sunday-night 39-26 blowout at Heinz Field. The Steelers are 5-2 and winners of three straight, but all five of their wins have come against teams with .500 records or worse. The D’s stats have gotten fat on bad offenses. I don’t see them slowing down Brady and Co. on Sunday.
Sam Farmer, LA Times: Patriots 35, Steelers 31. Tom Brady is 4-1 at Heinz Field, and the Patriots have had an extra week to prepare for this matchup. The game is likely to be a shootout with the way these offenses can score.
Globe staff: Four out of five pick the Pats (New England by 3).
It says here: Patriots 27, Steelers 21. New England’s defense continues to emerge. Ochocinco – really – grabs a TD.