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Patriots vs. Steelers 2016 picks and predictions: Hardly anyone is taking Pittsburgh without Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger will miss a marquee matchup between Pittsburgh and New England, and his absence has experts flocking towards the Patriots.

As the season approached, a Week 7 showdown between AFC rivals New England and Pittsburgh looked like one of the biggest games of 2016. Then, Ben Roethlisberger's meniscus ruined it.

The veteran quarterback briefly left last week's eventual 30-15 loss to the Dolphins with knee problems and had his meniscus surgically repaired on Oct. 17. The injury isn't as serious as the team originally feared, but it will still keep him from his ninth-ever meeting with the Patriots. Roethlisberger has typically played well against Bill Belichick's teams. While he's only won three of the eight encounters, he's also passed for 285 yards per game while throwing a 17:6 TD:INT split. Sunday's matchup would have given him the opportunity to beat Tom Brady for the first time since 2011.

Pittsburgh will turn to backup quarterback Landry Jones in his stead. Jones started a pair of games in Roethlisberger's absence in 2015 and went 1-1, but his history as an NFL quarterback fails to instill confidence. He's thrown for more career interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three) while completing just 57 percent of his passes. Prior to his time in Pittsburgh, he won the Sammy Baugh Trophy as a prolific passer for the University of Oklahoma.

He'll go up against one of the most prolific passers the NFL has ever seen. Brady has been on a tear since returning from his four-game DeflateGate suspension to start the season. In two games, he's rolled up 782 passing yards and thrown six touchdowns while blasting through the state of Ohio in wins against the Browns and Bengals.

He's 6-2 against Pittsburgh all time, chucking the ball for about 326 yards every time he sees the Steelers. His career TD:INT ratio is even better than Big Ben's, clocking in at a sterling 22:3. If Brady spent a full season playing against various iterations of the post-2000 Steelers -- one of the league's better franchises -- he'd finish with 5,400 passing yards and 44 touchdowns.

He'll try to keep that pace Sunday when the AFC East leaders travel west to face the AFC North leaders. The Steelers proved successful the last time New England ventured to Heinz Field, but they had a full strength offense back in 2011. They'll rely on an unheralded backup and a defense that allows more yards per game than all but four other teams in the NFL. That combination has made it difficult to pick against the high-powered Patriots.

Across the internet, only one of the main experts rolled with Landry Jones and the Steelers to pull off the upset at Heinz Field. That's ESPN analyst Seth Wickersham. CBS Sports' picks are a clean sweep for the Pats.

Here at SB Nation, it's also unanimous.

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