Steelers Gab Week Eight NFL Preview – New England at Pittsburgh

Belichick and Brady lead the Pats

When you think of the best teams in the AFC, it seems year after year you don’t have to look much further than the two squads that will do battle at Heinz Field Sunday, that being the Patriots and Steelers.

While New England dominated the Steelers last season on a Sunday night, the Steelers lately have been on a roll, winning three in a row to put their 2011 mark at 5-2, good for first right now in the AFC North. Below we take a shot at the keys of the game for the Steelers, as well as our prediction.

1. Stop the Pats Run Game – In recent history, the Pats have beaten the Steelers with the arm of Tom Brady being the story. Brady will throw a lot, and that’s fine, but when guys like BenJarvus Green-Ellis (87 yards in last meeting) or Stevan Ridley run the ball, it would help if the Steelers would stuff them. Allowing the Pats to have some type of run game is only going to allow Brady to pick them apart all the more.

2. Make Some Special Plays - This game has all the makings of a wild west shootout, and while both offenses should score, it would help the Steelers chances quite a bit to make some plays on special teams as well. Antonio Brown has been close a few times in 2011 to breaking a few, and it would be great to see him do it Sunday. Making it long fields for the Pats also would help the D, so Daniel Sepulveda needs to have a good day punting as well.

3. Pressure Brady - Of course this is always easier said than done, but if the Steelers 7 DL and LB’s can’t pressure Tom Brady, it’s likely going to be just like last year, when the future HOF QB was 30-for-43 for 350 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. Dick LeBeau is burning the midnight oil figuring out ways to get to Brady, and here’s hoping he gets it done, as it’s a huge key to getting a win on Sunday.

Prediction – New England has owned the Steelers since Brady’s arrival in 2001, and Sunday I can’t see it changing. The Steelers D has played well the past few weeks, but Brady always seems to play well, more so in Heinz Field. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense is going to need to put up 30, and while they may, Brady and the Pats offense are going to do what they always do – spread the field and make the plays when they need to. New England 37 Pittsburgh 27

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9 Responses to “Steelers Gab Week Eight NFL Preview – New England at Pittsburgh”

  1. DrGeorge says:

    Matt, your analysis is right on, including your #1 emphasis on stopping the Pat’s running game and your predicted outcome. If the Steelers play as they have been, the point spread could be even greater.

    However, there is a light in the forest. The Pats are vulnerable to the power running game themselves, which would also set up the deep ball that Ben likes to throw. Arians\Ben seem constitutionally incapable of running the ball consistently, but a successful running game is the only way to keep Brady off the field and hold down the score. Our pass rush is not going to sack him or even pressure him very much because his release is so quick and accurate, and his O-line is solid. If we used all three RBs and wore their defense down, we’d have a chance. But it requires patience and faith in our makeshift O-line. So I suspect Arians isn’t going to do it.

    • George H says:

      Mendenhall has been wildly inconsistent this season and due to the fact that he wont hit the hole hard and instead always try to bounce to the outside. I realize that going outside is his strength, though to be the Patriots, were going to have to win the battle between the tackles. Yes we have a poor offensive line, but that doesnt mean our RBs can’t still have success. Redman, Moore, and Dwyer have ran with success the same o-line that Mendenhall has, yet Mendenhall for the most part remains ineffective. I would hope to let Redman get a chance to start this week and just pound the Patriots defense all day long, and then let Mendenhall come in an try to burst a big play on the weakened defense.

      We all know the formula to beating the Patriots, yet its still so hard to get done. The run will open up the pass. Last season Hillis had a field day on the Pats Defense and that made Colt McCoy available to open up the passing game.

      I dont see why the Steelers offense doesn’t take a page out of the Pats playbook and run the same offense the Pats run against us. Quick releases and spread the field with a double TE crossing routes. Also utilize quick check-downs to Moore and Redman. I would think our defense is better than the Patriots defense, and yes our offense isnt as fluid as the Patriots is, though the differential between our offense and defense compared to the Patriots is lesser.

      One last point… who here hates that stupid fake reverse, TE screen that never works?

  2. Matt Loede says:

    This could be a game made for Redmen, who has been solid in the Steelers power running game – where there has been one. I would love to see what happens if he gets 10-15 carries, and that also keeps Brady off the field.

    Go back to the 2004 game, the Steelers ran for 221 yards, with Duece Staley and Jerome Bettis combining for 40 carries! If the Steelers can devise a plan to have Mendenhall, Redmen and even Dwyer combine for 40-45 carries, they will win.

    Also in that game, they held the Pats to 5 yards rushing, which is exactly what I was thinking of when I wrote the #1 key above.

    • George H says:

      Unfortunately we dont have the OC or the run defense to imitate the 2004 results

    • DrGeorge says:

      This edition of the O-line is not the 2004 Steelers, and we have no one as powerful as Bettis. But we don’t have to go back to 2004 for a template.

      The first half of the Titans game demonstrated what can be done by our existing team when Ben plays within the offense and Arians runs the ball between the tackles. Wide sweeps are way too slow for the NFL defenses, and Ben won’t have time against the Pat’s to wait for long routes to open.

      Although the short passing game against the Titans was necessitated by Ben’s foot, it is what we should be doing routinely. It opens up the running lanes and the long bombs to Wallace. By the following game, however, Ben’s foot felt better, and the short passing game and rushing attack were abandoned against the Jags, with predictable results.

      The strategy we used against the Titans gives us our best chance against the Pats — but I agree with George H that it isn’t likely that Arians is up to it for an entire game, and our run defense remains suspect.

    • Gerald says:

      Matt,
      Second week in a row you have picked against the Steelers. Anyone who has followed the Steelers for more than a day knows they can step up. Guess you will make it 3 next week. If you do why dint you just start writing for the Ravens camp.

      • The Tony says:

        Gerald,

        I agree it was a bit crazy to actually believe the Cardinals were going to beat the Steelers, so Matt’s prediction was clearly off. However Matt is just being a realist when it come to the Steelers. We are not the same team as last year, and with our current injuries, I too would pick the Patriots. After all we cant be picked to win every game. I do think that we will be favored to win at home next week against Baltimore barring any substantial injuries.

        • DrGeorge says:

          Gerald, I suspect Matt would be pleased as punch to have the Steelers prove his prediction wrong. And so would I. But when a sportswriter becomes a cheerleader instead of an analyst, he loses all credibility.

          Matt has presented his case for a Patriot win. If you want to dispute his logic, have at it. There are certainly valid arguments to be made on behalf of a Steelers’ victory this coming Sunday — but based on the way the team has been playing lately, those arguments seem less persuasive than Matt’s analysis above.

  3. Gerald says:

    Ok need you and all your cronies to start eating crow. None of you guys gave the Steelers a shot. I knew they had to play their best game to date however this game was exactly what they needed.
    Gerald

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