Pittsburgh snapped a three-game losing streak with a quality win over the Patriots in Heinz Field last week. In somewhat of a surprise, the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks found themselves caught up in a defensive battle before the Steelers pulled out a 17-10 victory.
There is no time for the Steelers to celebrate their big win, though, as an even bigger test awaits this week. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will host the Steelers in the NFL’s Game of the Week.
New Orleans won their last two games, but they are not coming into this game on a roll. Just two weeks after the Cowboys held them to 10 points in a loss, a desperate Panthers defense limited Brees and company to just 12. In between those games, the Buccaneers played the Saints even into the second half before succumbing to a 28-14 loss.
Fortunately, the Saints’ defense has rebounded to its 2017 form and was up to the task against Cam Newton and the Panthers. The 12-9 victory Monday was well-earned while alarming at the same time.
There is no particular injury or event Brees or Sean Payton can point to that slowed the Saints. But you can bet lots of game film will be reviewed to see how to put New Orleans back on track.
Pittsburgh will not be fooled into thinking they can rely on their defense to hold the Saints a third time, especially in the Big Easy. If there’s one positive for Pittsburgh, it’s that Ben Roethlisberger has reversed his home and away pattern this year. The Steelers QB has a better passer rating on the road than in Pittsburgh.
Injuries and notes
The Steelers still list James Conner (ankle) as questionable for Sunday.
There are no new injuries listed by either team.
Mike Tomlin is breathing a sigh of relief after the Steelers held on against the Patriots. But he knows a loss to the Saints could push his team out of first place in the division and leave them behind in the wild-card race as well.
With Tomlin’s record and the history of stability in the Steelers organization, it’s hard to believe missing the playoffs would cost Tomlin his job. But it sure will put some pressure on him for next season.
Sean Payton is still winning even when his offense is losing some luster. Drew Brees’ name has been dropped from MVP consideration during the recent turn of events. Could it be that his 40-plus-year-old passer is tired? Clinching the first round bye this week would let him rest Brees for two weeks. If he comes back with a vengeance, Payton will look even smarter.
How to watch the Saints-Patriots game
CBS will air this NFL Game of the Week across the country except in parts of Arizona. That means anyone can watch it for free on their smartphone, tablet, or internet-connected TV with DirecTV Now.
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DirecTV Now, like Fubo TV and Sling TV, don’t require any expensive equipment or cables drilled through your walls. Use your existing Wi-Fi network to take advantage of what DirecTV Now offers.
Check out their websites today and sign on for a no-obligation trial period that will let you watch this weekend’s games for free!
Who will win the Saints-Steelers game?
Pittsburgh is in dire need of a win in a nationally-televised game. It is hard to bet against Ben Roethlisberger in that situation.
But New Orleans and Drew Brees needs a statement win to put their minds to rest before setting themselves up for a Super Bowl run.
Good news for the Saints is there’s no place like Dome.