Ryan Shazier says Steelers will be 'ready' to break through Pats playoff roadblock

PITTSBUGH -- The NFL season is nearly three months away, but that won't stop the Steelers from embracing their big-picture goals.

If that means getting past New England, so be it, linebacker Ryan Shazier said.

Asked about fan perception that the Steelers have a 'Patriots problem' after losing four straight -- including a lopsided 36-17 loss in the AFC title game in January -- Shazier told ESPN "if you look at it that way, the NFL has a Patriots problem," and it's one his team intends to solve.

"They've been a great team, they have a great leader, and they just find a way to win," Shazier said. "They have a good strategy in what they want to do. But I feel we are going to be prepared for them this year. I feel we are going to get them when we need to get them. And at any day I feel we can win the Super Bowl. We might have had a problem in the past but I think we are going to be ready this time."

Asked why he feels confident about those efforts, Shazier said everyone in the locker room understands "how important this year is and how much it would mean if we got over that obstacle."

"I think everybody is trying to get over that obstacle," Shazier said. "I think we have the team to do it and everybody is prepared to do it. We compete every day and try to get better every day for things like that."

The Steelers know getting home-field advantage in the playoffs would help that cause. The Steelers defense has given up 119 points in the last three games in Gillette Stadium, compared to 44 points in their last two New England games in Pittsburgh.

Defensive end Cam Heyward said "we want the goal to be the No. 1 seed."

"Because these fans are deserving of it, and we feel we have an advantage here," said Heyward of Heinz Field, where quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has averaged about three touchdown passes per game over the last two years, compared to around one per game on the road.

Defensive coordinator Keith Butler -- who is hoping to mix and match more coverages in 2017 to combat elite quarterbacks -- said he agrees with coach Mike Tomlin's message that the Super Bowl should go through Pittsburgh.

Asked about that message, Tomlin said he says things like that every year, but he wants his team to "feel the urgency of every moment."

"If we want our dreams to unfold in a manner in which we envision them, we have to respect [the process]," Tomlin said.