Steelers and Patriots can’t blow Week 15 matchup with letdown
The Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots are steamrolling towards a Week 15 showdown that could ultimately determine who holds home-field advantage during the postseason.
However, before they get there, both teams face division rivals with an opportunity to secure postseason berths on the line. And a letdown could torpedo a showdown that could be a prelude to another AFC Championship matchup before it even begins.
The Steelers have the Baltimore Ravens this weekend with a chance to wrap up the AFC North in addition to clinching their postseason berth. So, in theory, they should be focused on the task at hand against their biggest rivals within their division.
But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been talking about the Patriots, both the Week 15 affair and a potential AFC title rematch, for awhile now and it’s leaving them wide open for criticism from the media if they do happen to lose to Baltimore. Especially considering their history of playing down to opponents this season.
Meanwhile, the Patriots also have a chance to wrap up their division with a win over the Dolphins in addition to locking down a spot in the playoffs. However, the 5-7 Dolphins may seem like such a formality that they’re at risk of taking things for granted.
That’s not traditionally typical of a Bill Belichick team, but the Patriots have had a couple late-season slip-ups in Miami in the last four seasons. In 2013, that cost them home-field advantage to the Denver Broncos and they’d go on to lose in Denver (having already beaten them at home earlier in the year) in the AFC Championship.
We all assume that the two premier franchises in the AFC are going to take care of business and set up a titanic battle between possibly the two best teams in the NFL. However, if either slips it could take some of the juice out of one of the biggest regular-season matchups in years.