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ESPN's Pats-Steelers prediction roundup

10/28/2011

A roundup of how ESPN's analysts see Sunday’s Patriots-Steelers game playing out:

PatriotsSteelers* ESPNBoston.com Patriots analyst Tedy Bruschi: Patriots 30, Steelers 27. Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger will both have big games. It's just a matter of who will have the bigger impact. It will be Brady. This week the season turns for CB Devin McCourty, and he makes a big play that changes the game.

* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss: Steelers 27, Patriots 24. I believe the Patriots will lose at least one of the next three games, and I think this could be the one. I envision Pittsburgh receivers having success down the field, assuming Roethlisberger has the time to attack that area of the field. On the flip side, the unknown is whether the Steelers' defense can come up with an answer for the spread attack, which has hurt them in the past. Brady has been hit 13 times over the past two games, and I could see Pittsburgh, at home, finding a way to do what it hasn't in recent years -- generating enough pressure to slow down the offense this time.

* ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg: Patriots 28, Steelers 20. Patriots coach Bill Belichick noted this week that the Steelers defense doesn't change much year to year, so why should we think that Pittsburgh -- even with the top-rated pass defense in the NFL this season -- will find a way to (finally) slow Brady? The Steelers haven't allowed a 300-yard passer this season ... until Sunday.

* ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Rodak: Patriots 34, Steelers 31. Brady and the Patriots offense continues its success against Dick LeBeau and the Steelers' defense, but Roethlisberger and the Steelers keep it close, matching their speedy wide receivers against the shaky Patriots' secondary. It's a close one, but a field goal is the difference in yet another Patriots win over Pittsburgh.

* ESPN Boston Radio’s Adam Jones: Patriots 34, Steelers 24. Care to guess when the last time the Patriots lost to the Steelers with Brady as their quarterback was? That would be October 2004 (a loss the Patriots would later atone for with a 41-27 victory in the AFC Championship game). The point? The Patriots match up well against Pittsburgh. Couple that with the fact that the Steelers have zero impressive wins so far this season -- their opponents are a combined 7-24 -- and this has all the makings of a Patriots win.

* ESPN Boston Radio’s Andrew Brooks: Patriots 23, Steelers 17. Teams that are coming off of a bye this season are 3-9, the Steelers have the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL and have big deep play potential to attack the Patriots where they are weakest in the secondary, but none of that matters. Brady doesn't lose to the Steelers. He hasn't since 2004; the trend continues on Sunday.

* Grantland's Bill Simmons: Patriots (-3) over STEELERS. Just know that a week of "Tom Brady owns the Steelers in Pittsburgh!" stories have properly scared the living hell out of me.

* ESPN experts: Five of the eight pick the Patriots (Ron Jaworski, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter, Mark Schlereth and Seth Wickersham). Three pick Pittsburgh (Eric Allen, Mike Golic and Merrill Hoge).

* Sunday Countdown: Keyshawn Johnson, Tom Jackson and Cris Carter pick the Patriots. Mike Ditka picks the Steelers.

* AccuScore simulations: Steelers 26.7, Patriots 26.2 (on average). The Steelers won 51 percent of more than 10,000 simulations. You can simulate the game yourself here.

* Madden 12 simulation: Patriots 31, Steelers 27. When Tom Brady and the Patriots took a 17-7 lead into the half, the game looked to be firmly in New England's control. But not so fast as Pittsburgh came out on fire in the second half, putting up 20 points and pulling to within just four with plenty of time still left on the clock to complete the comeback. Unfortunately for Steeler fans, it was too little too late, as the Patriots held on for the thrilling 31-27 win.

* Ken Moll, Scouts Inc. (Insider): Steelers 26, Patriots 24

* Make your Week 8 picks with our Pigskin Pick’Em contest.

* What's your prediction for Patriots-Steelers? Leave it in the comments section of this blog post.