It’s all ahead of them.
The drive for a seventh Super Bowl ring for the greatest fanchise in NFL history is all in front of the Pittsburgh Steelers as they begin play Monday night for the 2016 season.
The Steelers, a team that is supremely gifted at a number of positions, have been picked by many national publications to appear, and win the Super Bowl in February.
There only appears to be two major things standing in their way – injuries, and their own ego.
On paper, there’s not many teams that can match up with this version of the Steelers, but let’s not forget in the past couple of seasons there’s been times when that statement has been made and the black and gold has stubbed their toes when they should have been dismantling opponents.
But for now we turn our attention to the Redskins, a team that is no slouch, winning the NFC East a season ago and one that added this offseason with corner Josh Norman joining the roster.
Can the Steelers get off to a fast start? Here’s our three keys as well as our first prediction for the 2016 season before the team comes home for a huge rivalry game in week two against the Bengals.
1. Use Weapons Other Than AB
It’s well documented that the team will be without running back Le’Veon Bell as well as wide outs Martavis Bryant and now injured Markus Wheaton. That means some of the lesser known pass catchers like Sammie Coates, Eli Rogers and Darrius Heyward-Bey will see the field often, and that leaves it up to them to get open and for Big Ben to find them. Sure it could become a pitch and catch battle between Ben and Antonio Brown, but by using those other receivers, the field will open up so AB can hopefully get loose as the game goes along. It could be a coming out party for one of the other Steelers wide outs.
2. Make Kirk Cousins Work for Everything
If you really study Washington QB Kirk Cousins’ 2015 season, it came down to this – he wasn’t so good against good defenses, and tore apart awful ones. So that means whatever Steelers defense shows up on Monday night could dictate how good or bad Cousins plays. One way to make Cousins below average is to apply pressure – and a lot of it. Cousins hit just 53.9 percent of his passes for seven TD’s and seven picks last season when under pressure according to Pro Football Focus. The Steelers D-line and linebackers can set the tone by forcing Cousins throws, and making sure that he doesn’t have a lot of time to throw.
3. Limit Mistakes
You’re on the road, it’s Monday night, and while Steelers Nation will be out in full force, it’s still a road game. The formula to lose these games is usually pretty simp turn the ball over, commit silly penalties, don’t take advantage of other teams mistakePs. The Steelers have more talent, and Ben Roethlisberger and the offense should be able to dictate the tempo all night. It comes down to converting in red zone by scoring touchdowns, and also when chances to make plays come along, make them. An opening night loss to the Redskins just sounds like an awful way to start the season. Make the plays when they are in front of you, and the Steelers should be fine.
Prediction: As stated above, this is a game if the Steelers are as good as they are expected to be, they should win. Starting the year on the road is never easy, but it’s hard to think that the Redskins will be as good as they were a season ago when they went 9-7 and won the NFC East. I think this is will a big night for Ben, a big night overall for the offense, and a night when the defense should be able to contain the Redskins offense. Let’s see if this team can get out of its way and walk home with a win as they get ready for the Bengals next week. Steelers 27 Redskins 17
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