The Steelers need to rebound after a bitterly disappointing loss to the hapless Cardinals on a short week. They meet the Patriots on Thursday night football, another team that is seemingly in a free fall as they have failed to compete in most weeks this season. While still led by Bill Belichick, this isn’t the vaunted Patriots team of old.
While New England's offense is sputtering, their defense isn’t. That doesn’t bode well for a Steelers offense that, despite being under new management, has still failed to move the ball consistently. Despite all of this, this is also a Pittsburgh team that needs a win so they can continue to control their playoff destiny. Here are four questions the Steelers must answer against the Patriots this week.
Can the Steelers stop Zeke?
The Patriots' offense has been arguably a bigger disaster than the Steelers this season. Mac Jones has been benched in favor of similar disappointment Bailey Zappe and the receivers have been lacking all season. The lone highlight was Rhamondre Stevenson, but he will likely miss this game with an injury.
That leaves the ghost of Ezekiel Elliot to start at running back this week. A shell of his former self, Elliot was a late add to the Patriots roster in hopes of complimenting Stevenson. He has yet to have a huge game, but he is facing a Steelers defense that is banged up and just allowed a big output to James Conner.
The Patriots would like to have a stable run game to provide some relief to their mediocre passing game. Elliot isn’t a huge threat on his own, but New England boasts a decent offensive line. Elliot can’t be a huge factor in this game, as that will greatly turn things in favor of the Patriots.