David John says the teams may struggle to hit the total points target in Sunday's huge AFC showdown between New England and Pittsburgh.
New England at Pittsburgh (2125GMT, Sky Sports Main Event and Action)
There is little doubt the game of the weekend takes place at historic Heinz Field when the Steelers host the Patriots in what will likely sort out the top two seeds in the AFC as the play-offs looms ever larger.
The pair currently occupy the top two spots in the ante-post betting for the Super Bowl as well so grabbing home advantage in January could tip the balance in favour one way or the other when it comes to such experienced and battle-hardened franchises.
New England are favourites for this Sunday’s clash and although there is never really a good time to take on Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and company, they are particularly dangerous after a defeat.
The Pats are seemingly cruising towards their umpteenth AFC East crown but hit a bump in the road in Miami on Monday night as quarterback Jay Cutler rolled back the years with a three-touchdown performance to lead the Dolphins to a 27-20 success.
Brady has had issues on occasion in south Florida throughout his illustrious career and threw two more picks as a fourth-quarter rally came up short, rumours abound that perhaps the greatest of all time might be nursing an injury.
Head coach Belichick’s less-than-loquacious post-game interview was a joy when asked by a reporter whether his players may have been more focused on the Steelers’ game but whatever the case, few teams in the league over recent seasons have been better at delivering a bounce-back performance.
Their chief skill has always been nullifying the strengths of a rival but they certainly have their hands full here after an awesome offensive effort from Pittsburgh in a thrilling 39-38 success over Baltimore that clinched the AFC North.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for an eye-popping 506 yards and two touchdowns as wide receiver Antonio Brown zigged and zagged his way to 213 yards in receptions in another sensational performance.
Their receiving game will welcome back terrific rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster after he served a one-game suspension and if the Patriots do manage to keep that part of the offense on some sort of leash, Pittsburgh can always turn to elite running back Le’Veon Bell to pound out the yardage.
He could be in for a big game judged on how New England allowed the considerably less talented Kenyan Drake of Miami to run right through them, a theory which could strengthen significantly if a weather forecast of rain and snow showers from kick-off can be believed.
There is a good chance this pair will cross swords somewhere down the line in the post-season and Sunday’s showdown will go some way to deciding when and most certainly where.
It is easy to get carried away by Pittsburgh’s latest performance and the high-octane numbers they put up but this one shapes up as being a much grittier all-around affair and going under a pretty hefty points line in the mid-50s can pay dividends.
Prediction: New England 21-24 Pittsburgh
Recommended bets: Sunday NFL
Click here for our transparent tipping record.
Posted at 0830 GMT on 16/12/17.