I’m not sure this is what the league had in mind when it scheduled this game.
The Vikings came into this season fresh off of a surprising playoff berth and looked like they could potentially be a team on the rise. The Steelers are, of course, one of the most storied franchises in sports. They had a down year last season, but the odds were on them bouncing back. This probably seemed like a great matchup to try and sell the NFL overseas at the time, but what they got instead are two 0-3 teams facing off in what could potentially be one of the worst NFL games of the season.
Luckily for the Steelers, the Vikings are a little depleted by injury right now and the Steelers themselves are completely healthy for the first time this year. Le’Veon Bell and Cortez Allen make their 2013 debuts and should help out on both sides of the ball. They also have a bye next week, so if there was ever a time to get off the schneid, this is the time to do it.
Otherwise they fall to 0-4 and even the unbelievably wretched AFC won’t be able to save them.
Steelers on offense
The key point on offense this week is undoubtedly the debut of Le’Veon Bell. The offensive line issues aside, the performance of all of the runningbacks thus far this season has been subpar at best. They’re counting on Bell to help change that and wasted no time making him the starter immediately.
Will it help? I don’t know. Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t seem to think so (though this could be a motivation technique similar to the one Alan Faneca used on Ben himself during his rookie season), but I don’t think anyone can say for sure what we’re going to get out of him. He carried the ball maybe, what, five times in the preseason before his injury? He’s loaded with potential but the only way we’re going to know for sure what he brings to the table is by sitting back and watching. Minnesota’s defense is one of the worst in the league in just about every category, so he’s certainly going to have an opportunity in front of him. Hopefully he makes the best of it.
If Bell can get going at all, it should help out the passing game tremendously as well. Starters CB Chris Cook and S Jamarca Sanford are also going to sit this one out, so an already bad secondary is going to be even more susceptible for Ben to make some plays. If the Steelers can keep them honest with the run, we could very well see a bit of an offensive explosion.
We could also see them underachieve, turn the ball over 6 times and only score 3 points. That’s something they’ve seemed to enjoy doing over and over and over again in recent years.
There’s Big Ben!
There’s a turnover!
Vikings on offense
Everybody knows who the spotlight is on when it comes to the Vikings’ offense and for good reason. Adrian Peterson is not only the best back in the NFL, he’s probably one of the most remarkable athletes I’ve ever seen play any sport. The guy is a freak of nature from another planet. There’s not much else you can say about him (especially if your name is William Gay).
Christian Ponder is hurt so
Steve Beuerlein Matt Cassel will start in his place. I’m probably not alone in that I can’t help but feel like this is actually an improvement for the Vikings. Cassel is still the type of QB that this defense can smother and suffocate and I see no reason why they shouldn’t (except for that underachieving thing again). The secondary should fair fine against the likes of Jerome Simpson and Old Greg Jennings, so the rest of the defense needs to get in Cassel’s head and face so much that he can’t think straight.
It would be silly to expect the Steelers to completely shut AP down, but if they can slow him down enough to make Cassel beat them (and get some turnovers of their own) I like their chances.
– I don’t have much else for this game so I’m gonna take this time to bitch about something else. This ongoing attempt to globalize American football is one of the most cringe-inducing things about today’s NFL. I know these guys feel like their game is some cool little secret that the rest of the world just isn’t in on yet, but it’s not true. NOBODY OUTSIDE OF THE US CARES ABOUT AMERICAN FOOTBALL (I know some do and I tip my hat to my friends across the pond). And they’re not going to. No matter how hard you try, you’re never, ever going to get a significant enough growth in interest to justify anything that they’re attempting or considering right now. The NFL should be more concerned about the fact that the quality of the product they’re peddling has decreased SUBSTANTIALLY over the past decade and that there are thousands and thousands of fans in our own damn country who are slowly turning on the NFL, myself included. When I was growing up, I used to watch every single NFL game I could. On the typical Sunday, I’d watch the Steelers game, whatever the headline afternoon game was, Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football. Now I watch the Steelers game each week and that’s about it. Maybe one other game. I also know I’m not the only one who is like this and, while it might not be truly seen for sometime, I feel the dominoes have definitely started to fall. Don’t worry about getting Brits to like football. Worry about getting AMERICANS to like football.
Previous Meeting: Steelers won 27-17 in 2009
All-time Record: Tied 7-7
Broadcast Info: 1:00 p.m. CBS (from London, England) — Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Spread: Steelers -2.5
Two 0-3 teams give London the most Benny Hill game ever, just to confuse them and push them away from American football even more. A game that features three safeties, a successful free kick, an extra point via drop kick, a two point conversion, and an OT that doesn’t end because a FG is scored first. Bell goes over 100 yards and the Steelers actually win the turnover battle.
“What the bloody hell is this rubbish?”