New England Patriots Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Matt Cassel's Toughest Test Yet

Chris Radez@@ChrisRadezSenior Writer INovember 26, 2008

As a Patriots fan, it's tough to avoid being over-confident about this game, for a lot of reasons.

The Steelers are currently 23rd in the league in points scored per game, 26th in the league in offensive yards gained per game, 18th in pass yards and 24th in rushing yards.

That's bottom half of the league in every category.

They've lost to the Eagles, Giants and Colts... which tells me they have trouble winning big games.

The Steelers had trouble beating the likes of the Browns, Ravens, Chargers, and Jaguars... which tells me they can be beaten by mediocre teams.

Pittsburgh's offense just isn't explosive enough to think they can win against a team that has any semblance of a defense, and with the games they have left on the schedule (NE, DAL, BAL, TEN, CLE), they'll be lucky if they finish 10-6.

Against New England this weekend, the Steelers will have to find a way to get ahead early, or they won't stand a chance, and here's why.

Matt Cassel became the fifth quarterback ever to throw for 400 yards or more in two straight games this past weekend. Randy Moss is making ridiculous catches, and it's leaving Wes Welker open across the middle and in the flat.

Reminiscent of last year, much?

Kevin Faulk is a legitimate enough threat to keep the defense honest, and quite frankly that's all we need from him.

New England played a game against the Jets two weeks ago (those same Jets that are currently considered by many to be the best team in the AFC), in which overtime was needed to declare a winner... and to be honest, a coin flip basically decided the winner of that game.

This past Sunday, the Pats put up 48 points and beat the Dolphins by 20. These are the same Dolphins that annihilated the Pats in week three.

Same teams, same players (actually, the Pats have lost some key guys since then), and the outcome was a complete reversal. Why? It's because New England has improved incredibly since then... especially Matt Cassel. There's no way in hell anyone can deny that.

Not to mention... the Dolphins are also a way better team than they were in week three, and it was still a complete reversal.

SteeleRED was quoted in saying;

"Yes, the lie that your team has been living (that you are a serious AFC contender) will be exposed this Sunday. While I never take any winning opponent lightly, somehow your team fills me with much less dread than in the past."

Say what you want about the Patriots being a "lie" ... but dude, good luck with that when it's game time. I guarantee that BB and Co. have a pretty well thought-out gameplan, and will likely jump out in front early in the game.

Best of luck making that comeback with your bottom-half-of-the-league offense....

From a Steeler's perspective (yes, I do tend to offer both sides of the story), Pittsburgh does happen to be the best in the business in points allowed, total yards allowed, pass yards allowed and rush yards allowed. If Matt Cassel can put up a big performance against a defense such as this one, it will tell us more than enough about his ability.

If Pittsburgh can put a stop to the Patriots' first drive, they'll have a much better chance to stay in this game.

House Of Steel ( offered a pretty good analysis of why Pittsburgh shouldn't be counted out of this game:

"I will be flat out honest. I know our offense has its woes and the offensive line can be a real joke sometimes. I am honestly believing in the facts that Head Coach Mike Tomlin may fire up these guys enough to believe they can and will upset the Patriots.

Dick LeBeau, love the guy, is a mastermind of the exotic blitz packages. Having the number one defense in the NFL speaks volumes. James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, Aaron Smith, Brett Keisel these men will shut the running lanes down.

The biggest key is closing the pocket down on Matt Cassel. I am not going to take Matt Cassel lightly, he's playing lights out and going to give our secondary a hellish nightmare if he continues to be flushed out of the pocket and throwing a lightening rod to Welker, Moss, and company. The biggest key on defense is containing Faulk, Morris, Green-Ellis and shutting down the passing lanes of Welker and Moss for us to even have a chance.

Ben is Ben, I believe, he will come around and bring the glory back into the offense. I want the 2001 Ben Roethlisberger to show up at Foxborough. If Ben can bring the old magic and get Ward, Washington, and Holmes fired up and playing well, we got a shot. The dark horse is Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth.

They have to come in and bring their best catching game ever. Willie is down, so that is leaves us really looking bad on the rushing front, but Melwede Moore been playing very well in the big games, and he could maul down that defensive line and whip up a couple scores for us.

I think the majority of this game will come down to Special Team. We are a joke there, that is where the Patriots seem to shine better. However, I am remaining optimistic on this part.

We are really matched up pretty evenly with the exception of offensive line and special team. I am giving the Steelers the edge with their stifling defense. I really believe LeBeau is going to win the mental game and finally get into the head of Bill Belichick.

I got a lot of respect for this game, whoever wins, deserves it a lot. Great matchup, great test."

Feel free to join in the game debate all week over at TheScoreBoards, or talk about it in the comment section below this article.


Chris Radez is a Senior NFL Writer and Patriots Community Leader here at Bleacher Report, and he is also co-owner of


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