Patriots-Steelers matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Nov. 10, 2010 @ 6:16 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week 10 game between the Patriots and Steelers:

Patriots offensive line vs. Steelers linebackers

The Steelers have the best linebacking corps in the league, and the Patriots are well aware of what they are going to face in Sunday night's critical game. ILBs Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior anchor the league's best run defense. OLB James Harrison is having an All-Pro season and giving opposing quarterbacks nightmares.

That is not a good recipe for a Patriots offense that has struggled of late, watching its production decline since the trade of Randy Moss. It will be on the O-line to keep the linebackers out of the backfield and give QB Tom Brady time to throw, and time to breathe.

After a stellar start to the season — two sacks allowed in the first three games — the offensive line struggled, allowing 10 sacks in the next three games, with a majority of those sacks coming in the red zone. The past two games, though, things have improved and Brady has been sacked only once.

Pro Bowl OLG Logan Mankins is back, and that allows OG Dan Connolly to serve as the team's short-yardage fullback. OLT Matt Light has not had his best season, but ORG Stephen Neal has been solid, along with ORT Sebastian Vollmer. The Steelers will mix up looks and do their best to make life difficult for Brady and those whose job it is to protect him.

If there was a game to get the offense back on track, it would be this one against a formidable foe. But that can only happen if Brady has time to find his receivers, and the onus is on the O-line to have its best game this season.