AP NEWS

Three reasons it’s no cakewalk

January 16, 2017

The Steelers come to Foxboro fresh off taking out the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the divisional round. Buoyed by an explosive offense with two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, the Steelers will present a difficult challenge for the Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game. Here are three ways Pittsburgh could hurt the Pats:

1. BEN’S FIREPOWER

The Steelers can match the Patriots in a shootout. Roethlisberger certainly can go toe-to-toe with Tom Brady given the arsenal around him, starting with Antonio Brown (106 catches, 1,284 yards, 12 TDs), arguably the best receiver in the game. He also has Le’Veon Bell coming out of the backfield (75 catches, 616 yards, four receiving TDs), WR Eli Rogers (48 catches, 594 yards) and TE Jesse James (59 catches, 338 yards, three TDs).

2. PESTERING BRADY

The Texans dialed up a proven formula Saturday night in the divisional round.Press Brady up the middle and get him off his spot. They were effective using Whitney Mercilus, Jadeveon Clowney, Benardrick McKinney and moving them around. The Steelers, ninth in the league in sacks, can do the same with James Harrison, Stephen Tuitt and Bud Dupree leading the charge.

3. BALL CONTROL

Bell (261 carries, 1,268 yard, seven rushing TDs) thinks he’s the best back in the game. Well, if he shows it, and he’s able to penetrate one of the best run defenses in the league, Brady will spend most of the day on the sideline watching the Steelers offense control the clock. That’s certainly a recipe for beating the home team, something the Steelers have had much difficulty doing in the past.