Since then, the Steelers are 10-1 SU and 5-6 ATS, with their only loss over that stretch coming against the New England Patriots.
Sunday’s total is set at 41 points. The OVER is 11-1-1 in Pittsburgh’s last 12 home games in the playoffs.
Jacksonville and Pittsburgh both finished in the top five in the NFL in total defense this season and also had two of the lowest-scoring defenses in the league with the Jaguars allowing 16.8 points per game and the Steelers allowing 19.3.
“Brady and Jules have an unbelievable connection and both work constantly to things together the same way,” texted one rival coach who knows them both. “That is going to be hard to replace, it may just be (Rob Gronkowski), (Danny) Amendola and (James) White that have it now.” Another former co-worker on the two, this one a player, mentioned how the whole offense had taken on Edelman’s personality over the years—competitive, edgy and spoiling for a fight—and said he felt that would be tough to replace, as well.
So will you see it? I don’t think it’ll be obvious during the regular season. The Patriots are too good, and too adept at adjusting. But when we get to January and potentially February, it’ll be interesting to see where the ball goes when things are dialed up, with Edelman out of the mix.
“It’s my first playoff game in a while, so I’m excited, man,” Gronkowski told reporters Tuesday.
But even if the Pats don’t get their top receiver a target this weekend, they’ve still got a solid support staff in place — one that rivals the crew that pushed a Gronk-less offense to the franchise’s fifth Lombardi Trophy.
The 2016 Patriots got only eight starts from their All-Pro tight end after a combination of hamstring, chest, and back injuries relegated him to injured reserve. Fortunately, head coach Bill Belichick and the New England brain trust was prepared. Martellus Bennett had been acquired earlier in the season to serve as the team’s 1B option at tight end. While Bennett thrived, the rest of the team’s receiving corps stepped up as well: Five other Patriots had 400-plus receiving yards last season.
But some of those key players who kept New England’s engine running at top speed aren’t back a year later. Julian Edelman, who tore his ACL in the preseason, won’t play in a single meaningful game this season. Martellus Bennett departed for Green Bay in free agency, then talked his way out of Wisconsin, re-signed with the Pats, and played in two games before joining Edelman on injured reserve.