No team in the NFL enjoys playing on Thursday Night Football, mainly when they just played on Sunday. But it's that time of the year for the Patriots, and it feels like this game couldn't have come at a worse time in the season.
After losing to the Chargers, who only scored two field goals in Week 13, they'll now have to travel to Pittsburgh to play a Steelers team that will likely become even more mediocre now that Kenny Pickett will be sidelined with an injury.
Although they're only two games behind in the AFC North, the Steelers haven't been incredibly impressive this season, mainly offensively, which should be a plus for a New England defense that has been playing nearly lights-out over the past month.
This isn't a matchup anyone is looking forward to, especially since it will be backup quarterback vs backup quarterback, but maybe it'll be a better game than anticipated.
Bold prediction #1: Bailey Zappe will throw a touchdown pass
It's pretty unfathomable that the Patriots are at a point where predicting they score a touchdown can be considered a bold prediction, but that's, unfortunately, how far this season has fallen. After last week's embarrassing effort against a Chargers team that didn't look much better, Bailey Zappe could not lead the offense into the red zone or the end zone to score any points.
It led to them losing in historic fashion, falling to 2-10 after losing by two field goals scored by Los Angeles, perhaps the most embarrassing loss that most can remember in recent history. Now, just four days later, they're set to take on another depleted team, the Steelers, who will take the field without starting quarterback Kenny Pickett on Thursday.
Although it's a quick turnaround from Week 13, this feels like a similar matchup between these two teams as last season, where a Mac Jones-led Patriots team faced off against a Mitchell Trubisky-led Steelers, winning the game 17-14 in Pittsburgh.
The main difference will be that T.J. Watt will be active for the game this time, putting a lot of pressure on New England's offensive line to protect Zappe even more. If they can keep the former DPOY at bay enough, Zappe scoring at least one touchdown seems like a decent bold prediction. The quarterback will likely be more determined to get a big score since he couldn't do it last Sunday.
Even if their efforts aren't enough to get the job done, seeing more effort to get into the end zone this week would be lovely.