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Steelers vs. Patriots 2017 picks and predictions: Experts think Tom Brady is headed back to Super Bowl

Two of the best quarterbacks of all time will collide in the AFC Championship.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Foxborough for an AFC Championship showdown against the New England Patriots. These two teams already met once during the regular season, a 27-16 win for New England in Week 7.

However, the Steelers were without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in that game. Backup quarterback Landry Jones filled in and threw for 281 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Shortly after the loss to New England, the Steelers found their groove and are currently rocking a nine-game winning streak.

New England has won eight in a row and is coming off of a 34-16 win against the Houston Texans in the Divisional round.

While the Patriots did not get a lot of production out of their ground attack, running back Dion Lewis’s performance is one of the main reasons why New England won. Lewis showed he’s a dangerous weapon who can score anywhere on the field, recording three touchdowns in three different ways: rushing, receiving, and on a kickoff return.

The Steelers don’t just have to figure out how to stop Lewis, though. They also have to try to get pressure on quarterback Tom Brady, similar to how the Denver Broncos took down the Patriots in last year's AFC Championship.

Last week, Houston — especially defensive end Jadeveon Clowney — was able to rattle the four-time Super Bowl champion. However, the Texans didn’t have the offense to hang with the Patriots. The Steelers do.

There are plenty of players on Pittsburgh who can score at any point during a game, even if that wasn’t on display last Sunday.

Pittsburgh escaped with an 18-16 win against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the Divisional round. This was your proverbial knock-down-drag-out type of game. And thanks to kicker Chris Boswell, the Steelers won by only scoring field goals.

Both defenses made plays, but the Steelers’ rushing attack, led by Le’Veon Bell, was too much for Kansas City to handle. Bell is averaging 168.5 rushing yards this postseason.

The key to a New England victory is to contain Bell. The Steelers are more potent on offense when the young running back is having a great game. The Patriots have done a great job of clogging up rushing lanes, and that must continue against Pittsburgh. Expect the Steelers to feed the Patriots a heavy dose of Bell.

The last time these two teams met, Bell only ran for 81 yards, but that was without Roethlisberger. Now that Roethlisberger is back under center against New England, Pittsburgh can use more of a balanced attack on offense.

When Bell is performing well, he is giving easy opportunities for Roethlisberger and receiver Antonio Brown to make big plays in the passing game. The Patriots’ top-10 defense doesn't let opponents score a lot of points or gain yards, so this should be an interesting matchup.

Even though both teams are capable of winning this game, most of the experts at CBS Sports and ESPN believe the Patriots will walk away victorious and head to Super Bowl LI. It’s not unanimous at either site, however, with a few pickers taking the Steelers.

It’s the same story here at SB Nation, where New England is a 6-3 favorite.

SB Nation’s AFC Championship Picks

Game RVB Stephen White Thomas George Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Louis Bien Joel Thorman Fooch OddsShark Computer
Game RVB Stephen White Thomas George Jeanna Thomas Adam Stites Louis Bien Joel Thorman Fooch OddsShark Computer
PIT vs NE NE PIT NE NE NE PIT NE PIT NE