Do or die time!
This is going to be the single most important game the Steelers play this season. It feels a little weird to say that 3/4 of the way of September, but it couldn’t be truer — if the Steelers lose to the Bears on Sunday, you can kiss any of the little hope you have goodbye. I don’t care how bad the AFC is. Teams usually just don’t recover from 0-3 (ironically, the last time the Steelers started 0-3, they finished 9-7 but don’t count on that lightning striking twice).
However, if the Steelers can find a way to steal one from the Bears, they could be in okay shape. The Ravens play the Texans this week and the Bengals play the Packers, so it’s completely realistic that we could see a 1-2 logjam in the AFC North on Monday morning.
The schedule gets easier after this. They have a rough week ahead of them traveling to London, but I like them against the Vikings. They then get a bye week after that, followed by what I think is nice a stretch of very winnable games, as long as they stay healthy.
And they’re starting to get healthy!
Le’Veon Bell and Heath Miller both fully participated in practice week. Bell probably isn’t going to play, but it looks like Heath is going to.
His name is Earl Heath Miller and if you don’t love that man, then you are no friend of mine.
I’m fired up. Earl’s fired up. Ben’s fired up. Let’s go, people. Sunday Night Football. This is what it’s all about, right?
Steelers on Offense
This sounds like a disaster when you first imagine it. It could very well be one.
The Bears defense is scary. If you just look at the stats, it’s not very intimidating. If you look at the roster, you probably won’t recognize many names outside of Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman, and Lance Briggs. But these guys have been forcing turnovers like no other over the past few years. They’ve forced 6 of them already this season.
The Steelers offense of course has been giving up turnovers like no other over the past few seasons.
The Bears can be run on and they can be thrown on. But the Steelers have to take care of the ball and avoid turnovers at all costs. They may get a huge break in that department as Tillman is questionable this week. He is the main cog in that turnover machine and would be sorely missed.
Even if Tillman does play, I still think they’re alright. They get Heath back. Another week of practice with Felix Jones and Fernando Velasco is going to be helpful. They won’t have to worry about crowd noise. Heath and Beachum are going to be able to help the blocking tremendously. If they just hold onto the damn ball, I really think they can be successful against these guys.
Steelers on defense
The Bears actually have quite a few weapons on offense. Matt Forte is one of the most versatile backs in the NFL. Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall is one of the best hookups in the league. Alshon Jeffrey will give William Gay (Cortez is out again, but Curtis Brown is back) his second tough test in a row. Martellus Bennett is a very good tight end. This is the best offense they’ve faced thus far and will be tough.
I don’t see why they can’t stop them though. I like the matchups. The only one that concerns me is Jeffrey’s speed against William Gay.
The offense can also potentially help out a lot by actually holding onto the ball this week. They have an opportunity to, so hopefully we’ll see them take advantage of it.
It would be nice to get some splash plays as well. Jay Cutler is a poor man’s Ben Roethlisberger. He has a tendency to hold onto the ball for too long as well as turning it over. He can also burn you though. If the defense can get in Cutler’s face, he could have a long night.
I think the most apt description of Cutler I’ve ever heard was when Stan Marsh told him “my dad says you kinda suck, but could be good someday.”
- There was a lot of chatter this week about a meeting the veterans on the team held to get the young guys focused. One of the only publicized (if not the only) changes that came of it was that players with less than 4 years of experience can’t play ping-pong or pool anymore. People had a snark field day with this one and I don’t understand why. The meeting was private and what was discussed in there will stay private. For some reason I seriously doubt that all they talked about was freaking ping-pong. These younger knuckleheads need a dose of reality and I have a feeling they got it in there. The funny thing is, if one of the young guys tweeted a picture of him playing ping-pong, what would happen? They’d get crucified for playing games instead of working on *their* games. Don’t kid yourselves. People just want reasons to bitch about this team. The meeting was well-needed and I think it will be a productive in the long run.
- Jay Cutler has faced the Steelers twice before in his career and both times led a last second drive and a FG for the win (31-28 as a Bronco in 2007 and 17-14 as a Bear in 2009). This will be his first visit to Heinz Field.
Previous Meeting: Bears won 17-14 in 2008
All-time Record: Bears lead the series 17-7-1
Broadcast Info: 8:20 p.m. NBC — Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
Spread: Steelers +2
If you can’t tell, I love them this week. Heinz Field will be fired up. Jarvis Jones has his breakout game. The Steelers win time of possession and force some turnovers. Hell, I’ll even say the defense scores one.
Word to Earl Miller baby.