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Mike Tomlin expects 'fireworks' vs. Patriots in Week 15

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Mike Tomlin didn't shy away from looking down the road to a Week 15 tilt versus the New England Patriots that could be for home-field advantage in a possible AFC title rematch if all goes according to script.

In an interview with NBC's Tony Dungy before Sunday night's 31-28 primetime win over the Green Bay Packers, Tomlin said he has the team that can "win it all" and noted the Patriots game would be key.

"I'm going to embrace the elephant in the room. (The game is) going to be fireworks," Tomlin said before Sunday's win, via ESPN. "And it's probably going to be Part 1. That's going to be a big game.

"But probably, if we're both doing what we're supposed to, the second one is really going to be a big game. Then what happens in the first is going to set up the second one, which is going to determine the location of the second one."

After the last-minute win over Brett Hundley's Packers, Tomlin didn't back down from the declaration.

"He asked for non-coach speak," Tomlin said. "So I was having a conversation with an old friend. You know I've got respect for this process. We've got a good football team. I've got a great deal of confidence in them. Everybody in America knows that's a big game, OK? We couldn't deny that if we wanted to. You guys are going to ask us about it between now and then. So I stand by the statement."

It's refreshing to hear a coach dash the "one game at a time" mantra and display some honesty. Had Tomlin simply gone the coach-speak route every viewer would have scoffed anyhow.

Both at 9-2, the Steelers and Patriots are the class of a plodding AFC. With Week 15 setting up as a game that could decide who hosts the AFC title tilt, it's not too early to start looking ahead.

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