The 2017 AFC Championship game is set, and fans are in store for quite the playoff treat.
Up next, the Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots. While New England is the favorite (that tends to be the case when a team holds the No. 1 seed and is playing at home), no one is taking the Steelers lightly at this point in the season (or ever, really).
Everyone expected New England to make it this far. However, now the real challenge begins. From start to finish, the Steelers have been a trendy Super Bowl pick. Okay, so those talks died down a bit when Pittsburgh lost four games in a row at one point in the season. Since that four-game losing streak, Pittsburgh has been arguably the hottest team in the NFL, but more from that later.
In case you missed it, Pittsburgh has made it to this point in the 2017 NFL playoffs by knocking off the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. As for the Patriots, they took care of business, as expected, against the Houston Texans.
Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, two of the best quarterbacks on the planet, aren’t strangers to the AFC Championship. This stat, according to ESPN, should tell fans all they need to know about that one.
“Brady will play in his 11th AFC Championship game, moving past Gene Upshaw (10) and George Blanda (10) for most appearances in a conference title game by any player in NFL history.”
For the record, Brady has four Super Bowl victories to his name and Roethlisberger has two.
Talent will be flooding the field when these teams meet up in the 2017 AFC Championship, and while the Patriots are no doubt the favorites, let’s unleash three reasons why the Steelers could pull off the upset.
Side note: Pittsburgh and New England met up earlier in the season. The Pats won that battle by the score of 27-16, but it’s important to note that Big Ben didn’t play in that contest.
Le’Veon Bell Is Unstoppable Right Now
Le’Veon Bell is a special kind of player. Not only does he run the football in a way that we aren’t used to seeing (he patiently waits and surveys his surroundings before making his move), but he can do some serious damage in the rushing and passing departments.
Why should the Patriots be worried about Bell? Well, other than his unique running style, the running machine rushed for 170 yards during the last game against the Chiefs and 167 yards against the Dolphins in the first round of the playoffs. Not to mention, Bell had 616 receiving yards in 2016. This man can literally do it all. He is playing fierce football right now, and his unique style certainly throws opposing teams off.
While most fans will claim the AFC and NFC championship games are all about the quarterbacks — and for good reason — players like Bell could easily steal the show.
Pittsburgh Is Riding One Heck Of A Winning Streak
The Patriots might have the No. 1 seed in the AFC (and the best record in football), but it’s Pittsburgh who is riding a — wait for it — nine-game winning streak.
With that said, the Pats have been pretty hot themselves, as they are riding an eight-game winning streak.
Nonetheless, Pittsburgh is playing on a different level right now, which is pretty evident in the team’s winning streak.
The Steelers’ Weapons On The Offensive Side Of The Ball
If Bell was the only player the Patriots’ defense had to worry about, then that would be one thing. That is not the case. Pittsburgh also has arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in Antonio Brown, and he is certainly playing that way (Brown has recorded back-to-back 100-yard performances in the playoffs). Of course, Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the game as well.
When the Killer B’s — Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, and Le’Veon Bell — are firing on all cylinders, the Steelers are very tough to beat.
For all it’s worth, Pittsburgh is only giving up 14 points per game in the playoffs. If the Steelers can continue that trend, then it wouldn’t be a surprise if they won yet another Super Bowl.
Yes, the Pats are still arguably the best team in the 2017 NFL Playoffs, which is saying a lot with how amazing the Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons have been, but the battle against Pittsburgh will be no cakewalk, even with Bill Belichick and Brady masterminding the sidelines.
You have been warned, New England.
[Featured Image by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]