When the obituary is finally written on the Patriots’ dynasty, it will be accompanied by an image of Rob Gronkowski stumbling in a futile attempt to stop Kenyan Drake from scoring on a miracle play in Miami’s upset of New England.
It also might mention that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady finally began to show their age in the shocking loss. Belichick made the ill-fated decision to install Gronk as the last line of defense, and Brady took a sack that cost the team three points at the end of the first half because he uncharacteristically forgot they were out of timeouts.
But the Patriots (9-4) aren’t dead yet. They’re still in the hunt for the AFC’s top seed entering Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh (7-5-1), and they’ve dominated the Steelers in the Brady/Belichick era.
New England has won the last five meetings against Pittsburgh and six of seven, and it’s riding a 13-4 cover streak against the Steelers since 1997.
Pittsburgh is on a three-game losing streak and coming off a 24-21 loss at Oakland as 10-point favorites.
Ben Roethlisberger was knocked out of the game with bruised ribs before returning in the final minutes, but he’s expected to play against the Patriots.
Brady is 7-1 against the Steelers, averaging 321.4 passing yards while throwing for 23 touchdowns and one interception.
New England’s ability to bounce back from a loss has been well-documented. We’ll back the Pats as 2½-point favorites.
Four more plays (home team in CAPS):
Seahawks (-3½) over 49ERS: Seattle whipped San Francisco 43-16 two weeks ago and has dominated the series, winning the past 10 meetings while going 8-2 ATS. Pete Carroll is 13-2 ATS in his past 15 games against the Niners. The Seahawks are arguably the NFL’s hottest team, going 7-1-1 ATS in their past nine games, and can clinch a playoff spot with a win.
BEARS (-5½) over Packers: Green Bay has won eight straight games over Chicago at Soldier Field, but the Bears are primed to end that losing streak. Chicago shut down the Rams in an impressive 15-6 win Sunday night and would love to clinch its first NFC North title since 2010 with a victory over the rival Packers. Green Bay has lost its past eight road games while going 1-6-1 ATS, and the Bears have won and covered seven of their last eight home games.
COLTS (-3) over Cowboys: Dallas has all but locked up the NFC East crown after beating the Eagles last week, and Indianapolis is still fighting for a playoff spot. Andrew Luck is having a career year for the Colts, who have won six of their past seven and last week snapped Houston’s nine-game win streak. Indianapolis sacked Deshaun Watson five times, and Dak Prescott has been sacked more times this season (48) than any other quarterback.
RAMS (-12) over Eagles: This line opened as low as 7½ and has soared as high as 13 after Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz was ruled out. We’ll follow the money on this one, as Los Angeles looks to get back on track after its ugly loss to Chicago. The Eagles had their playoff hopes crushed by the Cowboys and are crisscrossing the country for this Sunday night game.
Last week: 3-2 against the spread.
NFL Challenge picks
Several Review-Journal NFL Challenge contestants made selections in Saturday’s games. Allen Leiker, Bill Bradley and Doug Fitz took the Texans (-6), and Jay Kornegay took the Browns (+3).