Week 8 Free NFL Picks: New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Week 8 Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on CBS 10/30/11: The two dominant franchises in the NFL the last decade have been the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not much has changed this year as the Patriots (5-1) travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers (5-2) this Sunday. The game could be a potential preview of the AFC Championship Game or at the very least, a playoff matchup. Coming off a bye week, New England is a two-point favorite in this weekend’s meeting.

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Overall, the Steelers have been excellent at home, losing just five times in their last 21 games. However, the Patriots have made themselves at home at Heinz Field. With Tom Brady under center, New England has won four of its five games in Pittsburgh. That record includes a 13-point win last season, along with two conference title game victories.

Despite the one-sided results, both Brady and Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger have enjoyed plenty of success in the series. That trend could continue this weekend. After all, Roethlisberger will be facing a Patriots defense that ranks dead last against the pass. In contrast, the Steelers’ defense is actually the best at stopping the pass. However, Brady and the Patriots own the top passing attack in the NFL, and the stout Pittsburgh secondary has proven no match for the defending MVP in past meetings.

For New England, the tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez could be the X-factor. Gronkowski was actually on the receiving end of three Brady touchdown passes in last year’s win against the Steelers, and his role in the offense has only expanded this season. Meanwhile, Hernandez has used his deceptive speed to emerge as a deep threat from the tight end spot. He has been clutch as well, including grabbing the game-winning pass against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago. There just aren’t any other teams that have a pair of tight ends that are as talented in terms of running routes and catching the ball, which makes game-planning for the Patriots next to impossible.

The Steelers’ main advantage could come from their receiving core and its ability to stretch the field. Mike Wallace is a household name, but Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders have speed to spare as well. Against a porous New England secondary, Roethlisberger should have plenty of opportunities to connect on big plays and put points on the board in a hurry. Barring horrible weather conditions, Sunday’s game has a chance to be a high-scoring affair.

On paper, the Steelers would seem to have the advantage thanks to their superb defense against the pass. However, stopping Brady and stopping every other QB in the league are two totally different tasks. The Steelers should put up plenty of points against the Patriots, but Brady and his seemingly endless arsenal of weapons should have no problem keeping pace. This game should be close, and come crunch time, there is nobody better than Brady. Roethlisberger has accomplished a lot in his own right, but Brady is still in a class by himself and has absolutely owned the Steelers. With such a small spread, any type of late drive by Brady should result in a cover.

Free NFL Football Picks and Predictions: New England -2.5

Week 8 NFL Football: New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Date: 10/30/011
Time: 4:15 PM EST on CBS
Vegas Odds - Favorite: New England -2.5 | Total: Over/Under 52

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