The New England Patriots don’t face the Pittsburgh Steelers for four more weeks, but they’re already getting an advantage in the match-up. The Steelers will be without starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who will be suspended for the next four games for violating the NFL’s performance enhancing drugs policy.
Steelers OT Marcus Gilbert suspended 4 games for violating NFL’s policy on performance enhancing substances. 4th Steeler in 3 years suspended multiple games: Bryant all of ’16, Bell 3 in ’16, 2 in ’15.— Ed Bouchette (@EdBouchette) November 20, 2017
Gilbert is one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, and his loss should not be overlooked. The Patriots will likely ask Kyle Van Noy to pressure his replacement on the edge.
Look for Pittsburgh to play Chris Hubbard at right tackle. Hubbard has actually played more than Gilbert this season since Gilbert missed a large chunk of time with a hamstring injury. Hubbard is a below-average tackle according to PFF.
The Steelers play the Packers, Bengals, Ravens, and Patriots over the next four weeks, but should be the heavy favorites in each game. The Patriots will need to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh to solidify their hold on the top seed in the AFC.