The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) host the New England Patriots (9-4) on Sunday afternoon in a critical AFC battle. Kickoff is set for 4:05 PM EST on December 16th at Heinz Field and the game will be broadcast on CBS.

Oddsmakers opened this game up as a pick’em. That line has shifted by a full point after early betting, as New England is currently a 1-point road favorite.  The total for this matchup is 52 points. Click here for a full look at the Week 15 NFL odds and for more links to our individual game previews.

Steelers vs Patriots Vegas Odds & Game Preview

New England dropped to 9-4 overall on the season last weekend after a heart-breaking 34-33 road loss against Miami. The Pats appeared well on their way to clinching yet another division before the “Miami Miracle” occurred with less than ten seconds left in the fourth quarter. Kenyan Drake found the end zone after a series of laterals to propel the Dolphins to a stunning upset. QB Tom Brady had a great game, passing for 274 yards and three touchdowns. He had a ton of help from RB Sony Michel, who racked up 112 yards and a touchdown in the loss. RB James White also had a good game, catching eight passes out of the backfield for 68 yards and a touchdown. As a whole, New England is currently averaging 28.0 points per game (6th overall) on 397.1 yards of total offense.

The Patriots haven’t been quite as impressive on the other side of the ball through their first thirteen games, allowing opponents to score 22.5 points per game (12th overall) on 372.5 yards of total offense. They have struggled a bit against the pass, surrendering 259.5 yards per game through the air (25th overall).

Pittsburgh is coming off of an embarrassing 24-21 road loss to Oakland in Week 13. The Steelers were badly outplayed in the second half, getting outscored 14-7 and missing a potential game-tying field goal as time expired after K Chris Boswell slipped and fell. QB Ben Roethlisberger had an impressive performance, going 25/29 for 282 yards and two touchdowns. RB James Conner was forced to miss the game due to a lingering injury, so the duo of Jaylen Samuels and Stevan Ridley took over the reigns in the backfield. Samuels was clearly the more effective back, catching seven passes for almost 70 yards. The big star of the game was WR JuJu Smith-Schuster racked up eight catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns. Antonio Brown was relatively silent, catching just five passes for 35 yards. Overall, Pittsburgh is currently averaging 28.2 points per game (5th overall) on 408.1 total yards of offense.

The Steelers have looked average on defense for much of the year, giving up an average of 23.5 points per game (16th overall) on 330.8 total yards of offense per game. However, they have been quite good against the run, limiting opponents to just 96.9 yards per game on the ground (6th overall).

Free NFL Betting Prediction: New England -1

I think the Pats offer pretty decent value in this matchup for several reason – not only are the Steelers going to be without James Conner yet again this week, Roethlisberger also has a lingering rib injury that impacted his performance against Oakland in Week 14. While Jaylen Sameuls had a good game through the air, he only managed to rush for 28 yards on 11 carries. Ridley certainly wasn’t any better, gaining just four yards on five carries. New England, on the other hand, is finally back to full health after missing Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead for much of the season. They should also be extremely motivated after suffering such a tough loss last weekend after a brutal finish.

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The Patriots are a rock-solid 17-7 ATS over their past 24 road games. They are also an impressive 5-2 ATS in their last seven games overall. Pittsburgh is only 1-3-1 ATS over their past five games overall. They are also only 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games.

New England has also owned the Steelers in this matchup as of late, going 4-0-1 ATS in their past five meetings. I fully expect that trend to continue on Sunday afternoon, as New England has the better record and has historically been almost unbeatable in games following a divisional loss. Pittsburgh might hang tough for a few quarters, but the absence of James Conner will prove to be too much here in Week 14 – I’m laying the single point and taking the road favorites to cover.