‘TNF’ preview: Look away! Patriots-Steelers will test your love for football

Here is what to observe for throughout this lackluster begin to Week 14. 


T.J. Watt: Since New England’s offense stinks, let’s begin with the very best participant on the sector when the Patriots have the ball. Watt is second within the league with 14 sacks, and per data from Pro Football Focus, he’s sixth in whole pressures (61). He is additionally ninth in ESPN’s pass-rush win rate rankings whereas the Patriots as a staff rank final in pass-block win charge. 

Large receiver Demario Douglas: Just about the one respectable factor about New England’s offense is the emergence of Douglas, who was drafted within the sixth spherical (210th general) of the 2023 NFL Draft. He leads the staff with 410 receiving yards, or 1,071 lower than Dolphins huge receiver Tyreek Hill. He is in concussion protocol, leaving doubt about his capacity to play towards the Steelers. If he is unable to go, the Patriots offense is likely to be DOA.

Who begins at quarterback… and does it matter? Whether or not Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe (or some man New England hires off the road) begins on Thursday evening is irrelevant. The offense will likely be rubbish regardless of whom head coach Invoice Belichick picks. Since Week 10, New England has averaged 4.3 factors per recreation and gone 0-3. 

Al Michaels’ sanity: The legendary broadcaster has taken criticism for what some understand as his less-than-enthusiastic commentating this season, nevertheless it’s simply as honest to argue that he provides “Thursday Night time Soccer” the vitality it deserves. 

Per the Sports activities Enterprise Journal, when discussing one significantly dreadful “TNF” recreation in Week 5 final season, a 12-9 additional time win for the Colts over the Broncos, Michaels told the outlet, “In reality, at one level through the recreation, I mentioned to Kirk [Herbstreit], ‘Is it potential this recreation could possibly be so dangerous that it is truly good?'”

This recreation will doubtless result in Michaels asking Herbstreit extra philosophical questions and perhaps even his early retirement.


Mitchell Trubisky: Starter Kenny Pickett was ruled out for Week 14 with an ankle damage. As anemic as Pittsburgh’s offense is that this season, perhaps Trubisky can present a spark. He is a serviceable backup with a profession 64.1 completion share, 70 landing passes and 45 interceptions.  

“I’ll be aggressive,” Trubisky told the Steelers team website on Tuesday. 

That improvement can be welcomed. This season, Pickett ranks twenty eighth in makes an attempt 20 yards or extra downfield.

George Pickens: A extra aggressive offense would profit Pickens. Of the engaging second-year wideout’s 76 targets, solely 15, or 19.7 p.c, have been on deep routes. He has seven receptions, 224 yards and a landing on these targets however has taken a backseat to Diontae Johnson since he returned from a hamstring damage in Week 7. The Steelers have to take extra photographs on offense, and Pickens provides them the very best probability of connecting on these huge performs.

Patriots rush protection: New England is stout towards the run, permitting 88.7 yards per recreation, third within the league. Per RotoWire, the Patriots enable the fewest yards per carry to working backs, which can drive Trubisky to should beat them along with his arm.

Jaylen Warren: New England’s run protection may restrict Najee Harris, however backup Warren could possibly be an enormous issue. The Patriots rank 18th in receiving yards allowed to working backs. Warren is second on the Steelers in receptions (38). Pittsburgh should exploit his one-on-one matchups to fabricate offense that in any other case is likely to be exhausting to come back by.

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