Okay, so the Steelers-Patriots kick off in a couple of hours and in-group mocking rights will be on the line. Here are my pre-game thoughts.
1) If Polamalu is out, the Patriots will have a significant advantage as the three teams that have slowed the Pats down, Colts, Eagles and Ravens all have at least one top flight safety. Carter and Smith are NFL adequate, and nothing more than that.
2) The Steelers need this game more than the Patriots. Right now the Patriots effectively have a 2.5 game lead over the Colts for home field, which means that they can afford to lose 2 of the next 4, get a bye and homefield throughout the play-offs. The Steelers right now are the #3 seed, and are 1 game and tiebreakers behind the Colts. Beating the Patriots keeps the Steelers no worse off and improve the tiebreakers I think.
3) The Patriots need to run the ball early in the game often enough from conventional sets that the Steelers have to keep 7 in the box.
4) The Steelers need to deny the Patriots running space so that they can safely maintain nickel and dime packages on 2nd down.
5) The weather looks as good as you can hope for the Pats passing game in December, cold, dry and not that windy.
6) I don't think the Patriots will sack Roethlesberger that much. Instead I think they'll square their exterior rush lanes in order to force him to play within the pocket instead of getting to the perimeter to improvise.