1. Spread New England out on defense – Similar to the way they started out against Kansas City, the Steelers will need to use 3 and 4 wide receiver sets to spread the Patriots defense out. Bill Belichick has made a living taking away opposing teams number one threat. In this case he will be looking to crowd the box and keep Le’veon Bell from having a big effect on the game. By spreading the Patriots out, Bell will be running against 3 and 4 man lines instead of seeing eight men in the box. Pittsburgh’s stellar offensive line should have no problem blocking against any form of nickel defense New England throws out.
2. No field goals – You can’t expect to beat an offense like the Patriots by settling for 3 instead of 7. This may mean Mike Tomlin may have to gamble on 4th down a time or two to ensure his team gets in the end zone. A repeat of the game last week versus the Chiefs will surely end in a loss this time around.
3. The home version of Big Ben – Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles on the road have been well documented at this point. In this game that just won’t do. Ben will have to be on top of his game for the Steelers are to come away with a win. New England’s defense hasn’t faced a top notch quarterback since Russel Wilson in week 9, and could be vulnerable to a potent passing attack. If New England sells out to stop the run as expected, Roethlisberger should have plenty of open recievers to throw to.
4. Pressure Brady with 4 – The best way to deal with Tom Brady is to rush with 4, and leave 7 players back in coverage. That’s easier said then done, especially because of how fast Brady gets rid of the football. Eight weeks ago this would have been impossible for this team to accomplish. Now though, with the emergence of Bud Dupree and the rebirth of James Harrison this strategy is very much in play. Maybe even more importantly will be the play of Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave in the middle. The Texans showed last week that the inexperienced interior line for the Patriots is a weakness that can be exploited. Look for Tuitt in particular to have a big impact on this game
5. Containing Dion Lewis – With tight end Rob Gronkowski out, perhaps the most dangerous part of the New England offense will be Dion Lewis both running and receiving. The Patriots running back scored three touchdowns last week against the Texans. He had one rushing, one receiving, and one on a kickoff return to cap off the night. Lewis may be even more dangerous then the Chief’s Tyreek Hill, a player Pittsburgh spent a lot of time preparing for last week.
6. Do not turn the ball over – Turning the ball over is generally a bad idea against any team, but against New England it’s deadly. The very last thing you want to do is give that team extra possessions. Ben Roethlisberger has had a tough time with interceptions on the road all season. This is the game where he cannot afford to make a mistake if the Steelers expect to win on Sunday.