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Sports

November 2, 2013

Sizing 'em up: Patriots (6-2) vs. Steelers (2-5)

Today, 4:25 p.m., at Gillette Stadium, Foxboro

TV: Ch. 4 (Jim Nantz and Phil Simms)

Radio: 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Bob Socci and Scott Zolak)

The series: Pittsburgh leads 17-9, but the Patriots are 7-5 in the last 12, including 3-1 in the playoffs.

Last meeting: Steelers 25, Patriots 17; Oct. 30, 2011 at Heinz Field, Pittsburgh

Latest line: Pats -7; Over/under total: 44

2013 STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Patriots Steelers

6-2 Record 2-5

1st AFC East Standings 4th AFC North

330.0 (18) Offense 322.1 (23)

120.6 (12) Rushing 68.7 (30)

209.4 (23) Passing 253.4 (13)

346.3 (19) Defense 302.9 (4)

130.8 (31) Rushing 121.9 (27)

215.5 (5) Passing 181.0 (2)

+7 Turnover margin -9

BY THE NUMBERS

Patriots

11 -- Rookie Logan Ryan became the 11th Patriot to take his first interception all the way back for a score.

15 -- Field goals in a row made by Stephen Gostkowski. The team record is 23 by Adam Vinatieri.

106.8 -- Tom Brady’s passer efficiency rating in eight starts against the Steelers, dating back to the playoffs in 2002. Only once in eight games this year (Atlanta, 119.8) has Brady reached 100.

Steelers

.538 -- Mike Tomlin’s career win percentage on the road (28-24). At 37-14 in Heinz Field, is Tomlin a product of the Heinz environment?

10 -- While the Pittsburgh defense is ranked highly, the Steelers only have 10 sacks, led by LaMarr Woodley with 5. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 27 times, four more than Tom Brady (23).

34 -- Steeler penalties this year, slightly her per game than New England’s 38.

PATRIOTS KEYS TO VICTORY

1. Rock the Bell: The Steelers are one of the worst running teams in franchise history. Let’s not make this the week that Le’Veon Bell (64 carries, 208 yards) goes off.

2. Clock Ben: The Pittsburgh offensive line is porous bordering on disastrous. Add to that rising sack total with a big day from Chandler Jones and the boys.

3. Lights out early: Instead of sleepwalking through the first half, put the boots to the Steelers from the start. Nobody is looking for a reason to quit like Pittsburgh. Give them a sizable deficit and let them disappear.

Hector Longo’s prediction: Patriots 26, Steelers 24 (6-2 straight up; 2-6 vs. the spread)

Analysis: There’s no way I could spot any team 7 points against the Patriots right now. Even with the Steeler struggles in the running game, Ben Roethlisberger has the weapons to keep his team in the hunt. Tom Brady has few weapons.

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