WR Plaxico Burress - Pittsburgh Steelers
|6-5, 231||Born: 8-12-1977||College: Michigan State||Drafted: Round 1, pick 8|
Week 20: at New England Patriots
Mark and Joe say: Tough matchup. New England defeated the Steelers 27-16 at Heinz Field back on October 23rd, 2016. However, in that game Ben Roethlisberger sat out due to his torn knee meniscus cartilage that had been surgically repaired just prior to the Week Seven game. Obviously, the Pittsburgh passing attack functions at a high level when Roethlisberger is available to play, as he is this week - looking back won't tell us much about this matchup. Last week, Pittsburgh couldn't muster a single TD in Kansas City and yet won the game 18-16 thanks to a post-season record performance from place kicker Chris Boswell (6/6 in field goals). Roethlisberger threw 20/31 for 224 yards, zero TDs and one interception, with one sack taken for -6 yards. He relied heavily on three main targets - Antonio Brown (11 targets for 6/108/0 receiving), Jesse James (six for 5/83/0), and Eli Rogers (seven for 5/27/0). Brown (nine targets for 5/124/2 receiving in the Wild Card round vs. Miami) is the clear-cut #1 target for Roethlisberger entering the Conference Championships - Roethlisberger only needed to throw 13/18 for 197 yards passing, two TDs (and two interceptions) with one sack taken for -9 yards to defeat Miami two games ago. LeVeon Bell has posted 167 and 170 yards rushing in the past two games, easing the demands on Roethlisberger's throwing arm. Ladarius Green (concussion) remains in the league's concussion protocol, according to head coach Mike Tomlin on Tuesday, January 17 - Green looks unlikely to play a meaningful role even if he does get cleared, as he's missed many weeks of practices at this point. Brock Osweiler had a rough go of it at Gillette Stadium last weekend, throwing 23/40 for 198 yards passing, one TD and three interceptions, while taking three sacks for -17 yards during the Patriots' 16-34 win. The Patriots' pass defense finished regular season ranked 12th in the NFL averaging 237.9 net passing yards allowed per game, with 21 passing scores handed out vs. 13 interceptions (tied for 15th in the NFL) and 34 sacks (tie-16th) generated. Over the final three weeks of regular season, New England averaged a mere 11.6 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (least in the NFL); 18.9 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing wide receivers (13th-least) and just 3.4 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing tight ends (sixth-least). Matt Moore had 24/34 for 205 net yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown vs. New England in the season finale - nobody has gone over that 205 net yards passing mark in the past three contests vs. New England (the Jets had 8/24 for 128 net yards passing, zero TDs and three interceptions thrown three games ago). The Steelers' passing offense sputtered in Kansas City, and they face another tough customer on the road in Foxboro on Sunday.