Championship Round: Roethlisberger Aims to Overcome Road Woes in New England

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Championship Round: Roethlisberger Aims to Overcome Road Woes in New England

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The NFL’s version of the Final Four takes place on Sunday with the AFC and NFC Championship Games. The New England Patriots are favoured to win it all, but the Pittsburgh Steelers will have a chance to stop them. For that to happen, QB Ben Roethlisberger will have to play well on the road – something he’s struggled to do over the last few years.

 

Roethlisberger’s Road Woes

The Steelers won last week with modest contributions from Ben Roethlisberger, but they’ll need more out of him to win in New England. It won’t be easy; over the last three years, Big Ben has been a different quarterback at home compared to on the road.

Since the start of 2014, he’s 17-5 at home with 62 touchdowns, 20 interceptions and a passer rating of 109.5. On the road, he’s 15-10 with 24 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and a passer rating of 85.3. An efficient effort from Big Ben would help the Steelers try to take out the top seed.

 

Packers Defense Deserves Credit

While QB Aaron Rodgers gets most of the credit for the Packers’ eight-game winning streak, the defense deserves credit, too. Before the current hot streak, the Packers had lost four straight, falling to 4-6. During the losing streak, the defense allowed 38.3 points per game. Since then, they’ve allowed 19.5 points per game. 

 

Keep an Eye on the Kickers

As we saw last week, playoff games can come down to kicking, and the final four are strong in this department. Last Sunday, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell set an NFL record by kicking six field goals in a playoff game. Packers kicker Mason Crosby also made the record books by becoming the first kicker in history to make two field goals of at least 50 yards in the final two minutes of a playoff game. As for Matt Bryant, he didn’t have to do much heavy lifting last week for the Atlanta Falcons, but he hit both of his field goals. He finished the season second in percentage of field goals made (91.9%) and made 19 of 20 field goals at home this season.

The weakest link has been Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who’s typically among the league’s most reliable kickers. He hit both field goals last week against Houston, but missed 4 of his final 10 attempts in the regular season. 

 

Important Injuries

Jordy Nelson (GB): The Packers’ top wideout missed last week’s game with a rib injury and looks like a long shot for Sunday. Although these injuries normally require a month of recovery, look for Nelson to do what he can to get on the field in the NFC Championship Game.

Chris Hogan (NE): Patriots receiver Chris Hogan left last week’s game versus Houston, but stated that his thigh injury is minor. It shouldn’t affect his availability for Sunday’s game, but could hamper his effectiveness.

Ladarius Green (PIT): Green missed last week’s game and is still in the league’s concussion protocol. He saw 34 targets in six regular season games and is a useful weapon when healthy.

 

*Odds as of January 18, 2017