Here's what I gathered from Rotoworld, PFF, and Boston Globe articles: PFF comparison Pitt vs NE passing offense 20th vs. 1st receiving 17th vs. 4th rushing 3rd vs. 27th pass blocking 2nd vs. 11th run blocking 5th vs. 4th run defense 19th vs. 2nd pass defense 18th vs. 24th. pass coverage 7th vs. 1st OFFENSE Pittsburgh’s defensive front seven may be the most high-variance of any of the remaining units. If they all fire and play to the best of their ability, this is the best remaining unit, but they also have the potential to be the worst if the reverse happens. The fact that James Harrison – at 38 years of age – is still their best edge rusher and only consistent source of pressure is a major issue. And while inside linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier have very good athleticism and playmaking ability, they are inconsistent and can be the cause of big plays going against the defense, too, especially in coverage, where they have a tendency to bite on the first thing they see. QB Tom Brady----- Tom Brady completed 18-of-38 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions in the Patriots' Divisional Round win over the Texans. He took only two sacks, but got hit eight times by a talented Texans pass rush. Houston had good success blitzing over the Center, then mysteriously dropped back and Brady then killed them when he had the time. The Patriots played up-tempo offense and attacked the Texans’ linebackers, safeties, and slot CB Kareem Jackson in pass coverage. Brady hit Dion Lewis and James White for scores, both on route concepts targeting Texans ILB Bernadrick McKinney. Between the twenties, Julian Edelman ate Jackson for lunch. Both of Brady's interceptions came off deflected passes in a fairly ugly performance despite the lopsided score (34-16). He earned the highest regular-season grade — 99.3 — PFF has ever given a QB, dating back to the 2006 season. Ben graded out as #14 for 2016. Brady also has a very impressive postseason history, even if his game against Houston last week was far from his best. Brady had a QB rating of 123 when not pressured in 2016. QB rating of 84 when pressured. Pittsburgh’s secondary is improving as the season goes on, and the young players who were such liabilities early in the year develop and find their feet. First-round rookie cornerback Artie Burns was picked on early in the year, but against Kansas City he allowed just two catches for 13 yards and he has allowed 40 or fewer receiving yards in seven of his last nine games starting. Their other top corners William Gay and Ross Cockrell are both also good coverage defenders, and the issues in this secondary are at safety. In 11 career games against the Steelers, Brady holds a 9-2 record. He has completed 69.3% of his passes for 3,148 yards (8.26 YPA), 26 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. His passer rating of 113.7 is his best against any single franchise in the league. The Steelers pass defense ranks 12th in DVOA, but they are 32nd (LAST!) against the opposing team’s #1 receiver and 19th against running backs. Look out for WR Julian Edelman and the Patriots running backs. The Patriots have a versatile backfield allowing their running game to take pretty much any form in a given game. They can go power-heavy with a player like LeGarrette Blount or use Dion Lewis as more of a scatback to adapt to whatever defense they face. RB Dion Lewis------ Dion Lewis rushed 13 times for 41 yards and a touchdown, caught 2-of-7 targets for 23 yards and a touchdown, and returned a kickoff 98 yards for a third score as the Patriots downed the Texans 34-16 in Saturday's Divisional Round game. The focal point of New England’s game plan, Lewis logged feature back usage while LeGarrette Blount was mostly limited to clock-killing work. Lewis capped the Patriots’ second drive with a 13-yard touchdown catch, easily beating Texans ILB Bernardrick McKinney in coverage. Lewis house called a 98-yard kick return on New England’s very next possession, and scored on a fourth-quarter goal-line carry, staying in over Blount because the Pats were in a hurry-up look. Lewis did fumble twice, once on a kick return that resulted in a Texans touchdown and again in the fourth quarter, though it was luckily recovered by the Pats. Still, this was the kind of dynamic performance we’ve long awaited from all-purpose playmaker Lewis. Expect Lewis to remain New England’s feature back in the AFC Championship Game. Lewis broke Ironhead Heyward's record at Pitt for most carries in a single game (47) and broke Tony Dorsett's rookie rushing yardage record. There is no Antonio Brown on the Patriots’ roster, but they do have a stable of reliable, effective receivers that Tom Brady can trust and work well with. Julian Edelman is now New England’s all-time leading receiver in terms of receptions in the postseason, and they have useful weapons at all positions within the offense, with Martellus Bennett at tight end and players like James White and Dion Lewis out of the backfield. WR Julian Edelman----- Julian Edelman caught 8-of-13 targets for 137 yards in the Patriots' Divisional Round win over the Texans. Edelman was sitting on one catch for six yards deep into the first half before improvising downfield with Tom Brady and adjusting for a 48-yard bomb, beating Texans CB Kareem Jackson. Edelman got white hot in the third quarter, torching Jackson incessantly in the short, intermediate, and deep passing games. As the Patriots' running game struggled against a stout Texans run defense, Edelman was leaned on to move the chains. He can expect another double-digit-target workload in the Conference Championship Round. WR Chris Hogan----- Chris Hogan left Saturday night's Divisional Round game with a thigh injury. He went to the locker room and was called questionable to return. Before exiting, Hogan lit up the Texans' secondary for 95 yards on four targets, whipping Texans S Corey Moore incessantly downfield. WR Michael Floyd---- Michael Floyd caught 1-of-3 targets for nine yards in the Patriots' Divisional Round win over the Texans. Floyd started in three-receiver sets with Malcolm Mitchell (knee) inactive, but we wouldn't be surprised to see Mitchell back in there next week. Floyd's first target bounced off his hands and to Texans CB A.J. Bouye, while a third-quarter Floyd drop nearly got Tom Brady intercepted again. Floyd was also flagged for offensive pass interference midway through the third quarter. He had 3 catches for 36 yards and a TD against Miami in Week 17. TE Martellus Bennett----- Martellus Bennett (leg) said he'll be fine for next week's AFC Championship Game. Bennett suffered a leg injury late in Saturday's Divisional Round win over Houston but only missed a handful of snaps. Bennett has been hampered by ankle and shoulder issues throughout the year but has yet to miss a game. He tied for third among tight ends with seven touchdowns during the regular season and will continue to be one of Tom Brady's top weapons inside the red zone. The return of long-time line coach Dante Scarnecchia might have been the single most impactful move of the offseason, and he has had a transformative effect on a unit that struggled badly a year ago. Right tackle Marcus Cannon became a second-team All-Pro this season under his tutelage, and right guard Shaq Mason has developed massively, too, combining to form maybe the league’s most potent double team in the run game. LT Nate Solder--LG Joe Thuney----Center David Andrews-----RG Shaq Mason----RT Marcus Cannon----- Cannon made the PFF All-Pro second team. NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports Patriots RT Marcus Cannon's five-year extension is worth $32.5 million, and includes $14.5 million guaranteed. Going on 29, Cannon will be paired up with Nate Solder through at least next season. Cannon is signed through 2021. Solder will be a free agent in 2018. K Stephen Gostenkowski---- Gostkowski by October had already missed two extra points and three FG attempts after connecting on at least 90 percent of his kicks and all of his extra points the last three seasons. In July, Patriots signed K Stephen Gostkowski to a four-year, $17.2 million contract. New England slapped the franchise tag on Gostkowski in March. The two sides had until late October to agree to a long-term deal. Before his early season inaccuracies, he was often thought of as the the best kicker in the league. 31-year-old Gostkowski is now the league's richest player at his position. DEFENSE They will have their hands full. "The Steelers biggest advantage in this game is the Steeler OL," quote from PFF. Pittsburgh finished the season ranked third in PFF's offensive line rankings, but they are playing even better now than their average over the year. If those same rankings were based on current form there’s a good chance they would be the No. 1 line in the entire league, because their starting five simply has no weaknesses. Alejandro Villanueva had been the weak link in the chain, but at midseason this year something clicked for him and he has been one of the game’s better left tackles since. He has been caving people in on run plays lately, and allowed just one sack over the last 12 games. He was one of three Steelers linemen not to allow a single pressure against the Chiefs, and this unit can both pass block and run block extremely effectively. (Green Bay has the game’s best pass-blocking line, despite the fact that Aaron Rodgers holds on to the ball longer than any QB not named Tyrod Taylor.) Since week 3, the Steeler OL has been the highest graded in pass protection, #2 Packers #3 Chiefs #4 Raiders #5 Bears in case you were wondering. PFF lists NE's pass rush as the team's biggest liability going into the playoffs. However, PFF says Ben's inconsistency is the Steelers' biggest liability going into the game against NE. Including the playoffs, Ben has thrown 11 INTs when not pressured this year. The other 3 QBs still in the playoffs have a combined 15. NT Alan Branch--- Branch has the highest QB pressures of any of the NE defenders (17). On Dec 3rd, ESPN's Field Yates reported Patriots DT Alan Branch won his appeal of a four-game suspension for violating the substance-abuse policy. He's a solid run stuffer. Pats will need him. Steeler RB Le'von Bell was PFF's #1 graded RB for 2016. Bell recorded the 2nd most yards-after-contact in 2016. Bell only had one game of under 100 yards from scrimmage (90 vs. Ravens). DE Trey Flowers----is hot right now. Several pressures against Houston QB Brock Osweiler and six impressive stops (tackles for a loss). MLB Elandon Roberts---- Sixth-round rookie Elandon Roberts replaced LB Jamie Collins in the Patriots' starting lineup. Roberts was the 214th pick in this year's draft. He's undersized at 6'/235, but those around the team have noted how ferocious he is as a downhill player. Starting MLB Dont'a Hightower called Roberts a "missile, torpedo, and hammer" in a recent interview, and Roberts' play is thought to be one of the main reasons Collins was dealt to Cleveland. WLB Dont'a Hightower---a run stopper. Named defensive player of the week in week 6. Recovering from a slightly torn meniscus in his knee. Think Levon Kirkland who is now the outside LBers coach for Arizona. SLB Kyle Van Noy---- Patriots acquired OLB Kyle Van Noy from the Lions in exchange for a sixth-round pick. Per ESPN's Field Yates, the Patriots are also receiving a seventh-round pick. Van Noy has been a seven-game starter at strong-side linebacker this season, playing 60 percent of the Lions' defensive snaps. New England has comfortably the best remaining secondary of the four, with a couple of All-Pro players in the shape of free safety Devin McCourty and cornerback Malcolm Butler. Butler can be beaten at times, but he also notched four interceptions and 12 pass breakups this season. Logan Ryan in the other starting spot has the league’s third-best run-stop percentage among cornerbacks, while Duron Harmon at the other safety spot is a solid player who simply doesn’t make many mistakes. The weakness in this secondary is in depth and sub packages, where players like Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe can be targeted and exploited, but the starting four is one of the best units in the game. However, the Steelers are on a roll. Steeler QBs when throwing to Antonio Brown had a QB rating of 87 thru week 7, but since week 7 their QB rating is 115 when throwing to Antonio Brown. Brown had 151 targets in the regular season, and no other Steelers WR had more than 65. Le’Veon Bell was the team’s second-most productive receiver this season. For sure, the Pats have noted that Antonio Brown's three least productive games of the year were against the Bengals and Dolphins who jammed him hard at the line-of-scrimmage then double teamed him. Watch for that. CB Malcolm Butler---- Butler is the 6th highest graded CB in the NFL according to PFF. Has not done well against Antonio Brown in single coverage. The Boston Herald expects CB Malcolm Butler to receive a first-round tender when he becomes a restricted free agent next offseason. Butler is angling for a contract extension, but there's little incentive for New England to reach a deal unless Butler is willing to play at a team-friendly rate. The Pro Bowl corner is due to make $600,000 in the final year of his deal. CB Logan Ryan---- Suddenly white hot. Houston QB Osweiler had a QB rating of 10 when throwing at Ryan. Started slowly. Patriots RCB Logan Ryan was on pace to allow 105 catches. Ryan had a strong 2015, but has been one of the league's least-effective corners through five games. Malcolm Butler has also seen his play slip in the first five games. QB Tom Brady returning helped both greatly because they got back to playing with a lead like they are used to. FS Devin McCourty----- Patriots FS Devin McCourty agreed to restructure his 2016 contract. The moves frees up $2.8 million in cap space. McCourty is under contract through 2019. He has 67 tackles, 1 INT, 1 fumble recovery, 1 forced fumble. SS Duron Harmon-- Had 24 tackles, 1 INT, 1 FumRec, 1FF. If we had TE Green playing well in this game, we'd kill 'em. These SS can't cover TE Green. SS sub Pat Chung--- Chung has 52 tackles, 1 INT, 0 FumRec, 0 FF. Cut by Eagles in 2014. Signed a 1 year extension thru 2018 with pats. P Ryan Allen Patriots signed P Ryan Allen to a three-year contract extension through 2018. New England's punter each of the past two seasons, Allen had a 42.8 yard average in 2016. Five touchbacks. Steelers' Berry had a 39.9 yard average in 2016. Some recent Boston Globe headlines: "Tom Brady sure to test rookies in Steeler secondary" "Big Ben has struggled on the road" "Patriots know the Steelers are coming right up the middle" (like the Texans' pass rush did) "Patriots had perfect attendance at practice on Wednesday" Some major differences between this playoff game and Week 7: DE Flowers playing well, CB Ryan playing well, LB Van Noy starting. TE Gronk out, LB Collins traded. QB Ben playing, OT Gilbert playing, rookies CB Burns and FS Davis improved, OLBers Dupree and Harrison starting playing more. LB Shazier playing well after missing four games prior to the week 7 game against Pats.