New England is in its record sixth consecutive AFC title game, 11th overall for the duo of Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick. They've had a relatively easy path so far this season, which began with a four-game "Deflategate" suspension for the 39-year-old QB, but Pittsburgh's defense and versatile offense could present a challenge.
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell already has run for 337 yards in two playoff games, while WR Antonio Brown has a pair of 100-plus-yard games, too.
New England is missing TE Rob Gronkowski, but its star in the divisional round was Dion Lewis, who became the first player in the Super Bowl era with TDs via catch, run and kick return in a postseason game.
Count on Belichick to make his players pay after a lackluster game against Houston.
"We have a lot of work to do. We made a lot of mistakes," Lewis said. "I'm glad we got a win, but in order to advance next week, we've got to play a lot better."
The Patriots are 5-1 at home in AFC championship games, with their lone loss coming in 2013 against the Ravens in Ray Lewis' final trip to Foxborough.
While being at home doesn't guarantee victory, playing the game at Gillette Stadium is welcomed by a team that has been on the road in two of their past three trips to the AFC title game.