About the Author
Recent posts by Kevin Fishbain
Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week Eight game between the Patriots and Steelers:
The turnover battle
The Steelers are uncharacteristically at the bottom of the league in turnover margin, with a minus-9 differential. Their defense has registered just three takeaways all season long. Last season, the Steelers had 35 takeaways and finished second to New England with a plus-17 turnover margin.
This is an area of the game the Patriots can and should be able to take advantage of.
New England, though, hasn't come anywhere near its ridiculous turnover advantage from last season. It finished with a plus-28 turnover margin, the best in the NFL since 1983. This season, the Patriots have 11 takeaways, but Tom Brady has thrown eight interceptions.
In a game that could be a shootout, the turnover battle will be key, and the Patriots cannot afford for this to be the game in which the Steelers find the takeaways that have eluded them thus far this year.
The Steelers have also had trouble holding on to the football, losing six fumbles. The Patriots' defenders should try to go for the strip, especially when they get a chance to close in on Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben has lost four fumbles this season. Roethlisberger has thrown six picks. The Patriots cut CB Leigh Bodden this week, and one reason they could feel comfortable doing that is the play of CB Kyle Arrington, who has four picks.
The way the Patriots' defense has given up yards, creating some takeaways would go a long way to getting a win in Pittsburgh.
On offense, Brady will need to be well aware of S Troy Polamalu on every play. The Bills showed how you can beat the Patriots by picking Brady off four times, and Polamalu will be looking to make a play.
The Pats' running backs are some of the best in the league at ball security, but TE Aaron Hernandez lost a fumble against Dallas.
Turnover margin is the Steelers' worst aspect of their game this season, and the Patriots should notch a win if they can take advantage of that weakness and win that battle.