In New England’s week 8 match up against the Pittsburgh Steelers, their ability to stop wide receiver Mike Wallace may be the key to victory. However, that is easier said than done. The Steelers receiver has been dominant at times this season and has no signs of slowing down. Here are a few statistics to keep in mind for Sunday. -


Devin McCourty against Mike Wallace should be the match up to watch on Sunday. (FILE:Icon/SMI)

- At the moment, Wallace is third in receiving yards league-wide. Through seven games this season, he has 36 receptions, 730 yards and 5 touchdowns. As if his 20.3 yards per reception average wasn’t impressive enough, he is also averaging over 100 yards per game.

- Wallace fits the mold of a number one receiver in the NFL. At approximately 6 feet, 199 pounds, he has a solid frame and is highly regarded as one of the league’s fastest players. Last season, former Patriots cornerback Darius Butler said the Steelers deep threat was the fastest player he had ever seen. If Wallace gets behind New England’s secondary, it could spell trouble.

- Perhaps the most worrisome statistic is Wallace’s big play ability. This year, he has had 11 plays of 20 yards or more, including a 95-yard bomb last week against the Arizona Cardinals. The Patriots defense on the other hand, has given up a league leading 37 plays of 20 yards or more through the air and an average of 322.2 passing yards per game in 2011. Devin McCourty, who has struggled through the vast majority of the season, will have his hands full Sunday afternoon.

Analysis:

The Patriots ability to contain Mike Wallace will undoubtedly be one of the keys to the game. While these statistics may make that out to be a tough task, it is not impossible. Yes, the Patriots defense has struggled this year, but Bill Belichick has always done a great job of taking away what opposing teams do best.

Hopefully, the defense builds of their week 6 performance against the Dallas Cowboys and continue to make strides. I believe the Pats do enough to control Wallace, resulting in another New England victory. Look for my full pre-game thoughts and score prediction later this week.

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