A team trying to make the first adjustments to life without their left tackle could do worse than draw an opponent with a negligible pass rush and an otherwise porous defense. That's what the Patriots have this year. To their credit, they also still have managed to post a 6-2 record despite that lackluster unit.
Of course, it's all on account of having MO-AH GRITTY HAAHHHHTTTT IN WOODHEAD NATION! or somesuch other thinly veiled racism from Pats fans.
A lot of the reason why, along with Miami and San Diego imploding against them, is that the Pats have Brady and an offense that doesn't turn the ball over a lot or commit a ton of penalties. The Steelers haven't beaten the Patriots with Tom Brady since Halloween in '04. Yeah, Pittsburgh rolled the Pats in Foxborough for a critical win in '08, but don't act like Brady being under center wouldn't have made it that much more sweet. The Stillers still have three consecutive losses to Dreamboat to avenge.
By now, we've all noticed the odd Cleveland Browns connection with the Steelers schedule. Cleveland played Baltimore the week before the Steelers did. Though the Browns lost, it wasn't by much and Peyton Hillis ran for 144 yards. The following week, the Ravens run D was slightly better and the Ravens beat the Steelers. The Browns beat the Saints in New Orleans the week before the Steelers went in there and lost. Then of course, there was the surprise pumbling the Brownies administered to New England last weekend.
Other than the to the paranoid among us (to which I'll admit to belonging occasionally) this doesn't mean a whole lot than hand wringing about facing a team now fired up after getting challenged by what's considered a lesser team. That's as much an excuse as the Patriots writers blaming some of Tom Brady's recent struggles on a minor foot injury that appeared on the injury report this week. Why, it's so debilitating that he's shown no visible effects of the injury.
So the focus will be on the O-line not to play so poorly as to make the Pats look competent on defense along with obvious improvement from William Gay and Bryant McFadden in coverage. Other than Brandon Tate, who isn't quite as skilled, the Patriots don't have anyone capable of burning them the way that T.O. did.
The Steelers took two out of three pretty tough road games in a row. Beating the Patriots would be important for reasons beyond the obvious sanity maintenance and playoff position implications, but because the following two weeks against a much improved Raiders team and the Bills, who despite still being winless are somehow able to play an agonizing brand of football where they are just good enough to lose as narrowly as possible to an opponent.