Steelers Stats For Success: Steelers vs Patriots

The Steelers will face off against the Patriots on Sunday
(AP Photo/Joshua A. Bickel)

The Pittsburgh Steelers are facing the New England Patriots on Sunday, September 18th. On the season the Steelers are 1-0, and the Patriots are 0-1. Let’s look at a few stats that will be key for Pittsburgh to hit to secure the victory.

Turnovers – 0

Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals the Steelers were clean in the turnover category. This will be key to Pittsburgh’s success all season because of their offensive deficiencies. The Steelers will need every opportunity to put points on the board in this one – whether it be six or three. And in the instances they will not score, they need to be able to punt the ball away to help their defense control the game.

Last year when Pittsburgh had similar issues scoring, they were 4-1 in games where they posted zero turnovers. On the other hand, the Steelers were 0-5-1 when they lost the turnover battle.

Head Coach Bill Belichick is a master of defensive game planning. He is absolutely going to find a way to make things difficult for the Pittsburgh offense. The best thing the Steelers can hope to do to help themselves is not make matters worse with turnovers.

Opponent Rushing Yards – < 130

The Pittsburgh run defense looked much improved last week giving up 133 total yards on a whopping 34 carries. Not only is that less than four yards-per-carry (YPC), but the numbers are skewed positively by Joe Burrow. Burrow scrambled for 47 yards on six carries when Pittsburgh was playing for the pass and defending against the big play late in the game. Joe Mixon, who carried the ball 27 times, only tallied 82 yards.

The Steelers will need to keep it up this week against New England. Last year the Patriots were were 7-2 in games where they rushed for more than 130 yards. That left them at just 3-5 in regular season games where they rushed less than that. Pittsburgh was 4-4-1 in games they allowed 130 yards or more on the ground last year, and were 5-3 when they kept it under.

Last week against the Miami Dolphins the Patriots struggled offensively scoring just seven points. They ran the ball 22 times for only 78 yards. Last season Pittsburgh’s run defense was their achilles heal. If Pittsburgh can continue to keep the run game to a minimum it will really stall the Patriots offense.

Penalties – <5

The Steelers were one of the most penalized teams in Week 1. They were tied for fifth in the league with eight. The Patriots on the other hand, were one of the least penalized teams with just three. In a game that is going to be ugly, low scoring and probably close, hurting yourself with penalties can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Pittsburgh was up 17-6 last Sunday after the first half of play. A half in which they only committed two penalties. However in the second half and overtime, when the Steelers were outscored 6-14, they had six penalties. While only two of those six penalties led to a score for the Bengals the extra chances and better field position did no favors for the defense. There was also one offensive holding call on a third and six that became a third and 16 – resulting in a punt.

While the Patriots offense is not nearly as high powered as Cincinnati’s, Pittsburgh still does not want to give up any extra chances in what should be a low scoring game.

I went into this post thinking sacks, first downs, or interceptions would be key stats for the Steelers’ success on Sunday. But the correlation to winning for Pittsburgh is much stronger with the above statistics. If the Steelers can hold onto the football, not commit too many penalties and keep New England from running all over them they’ll have a good chance at winning.

With both offenses still having a lot to work through Pittsburgh just can’t hurt themselves on that side of the ball. That will allow the defense to try and win the game once again.

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