The Patriots have one of their top defenders back in action in Pittsburgh.
Trey Flowers, who injured his ribs in Week 12 against the Dolphins, will be in uniform against the Steelers. The Patriots have been considerably thinned on the edge in recent weeks so having Flowers back -- both to rush the passer and set the edge against the run -- should be key for Bill Belichick's defense.
Also in action for the Patriots are Stephon Gilmore (ankle), David Harris (ankle), Eric Lee (ankle), Matthew Slater (hamstring), LaAdrian Waddle (ankle) and Deatrich Wise (foot). All came into the game listed as questionable but will be available.
There are few surprises on the Patriots inactive list as Chris Hogan's status was reported earlier in the day by ESPN. We broke down how things could look without Hogan could look like right here.
On the Steelers' end of things, their defense will be forced to go another week without Joe Haden, who is still recovering from a broken leg suffered earlier this season. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin seemed optimistic earlier this week that Haden could return, but instead he'll rely on corners Artie Burns, Cam Sutton and Coty Sensabaugh on the outside.
With both Haden and linebacker Ryan Shazier unavailable, the Steelers are without two of their best matchup players, meaning their desire to play more man-to-man defense -- a desire they professed all the way back in the spring -- may not be in the offing.
Meanwhile, Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring) will be in uniform, complicating the matchups for the Patriots secondary. Gilmore could spend time on Smith-Schuster or Martavis Bryant if he's not deployed on Antonio Brown. That would likely leave Eric Rowe -- whose size makes him a logical match for Smith-Schuster or Bryant -- on whoever's left.
The Patriots-Steelers inactive lists:
DL Alan Branch
OL Cole Croston
RB Mike Gillislee
DL Geneo Grissom
WR Chris Hogan
S Brandon King
LB Kyle Van Noy
QB Joshua Dobbs
DT Daniel McCullers
TE Vance McDonald
OT Matt Feiler
CB Joe Haden
\WR Justin Hunter
S J.J. Wilcox