Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quick Preview and My Big Mouth.

Ok, just found out that Hines Ward is out against the Patriots.  Dang, I really didn't mean it.  Seriously, I thought we could see a Steelers' win even without Hines, but it would be helpful to have another option.  Now, the young receiving corps better step it up big against the Patriots later today, but to do that, it's not just getting open and catching passes from Ben.  The Steelers' offensive line needs to protect Ben in order to let him succeed and keep drives alive.  In addition, the running game needs to get on track against the Pats' defense, even with a struggling Pats defense because when you have the running game shifted into high gear, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team in terms of time of possession and relieving said pressure on your team's quarterback.  Ben can run and extend plays, but he needs to find open receivers to stay alive and keep the ball out of Tom Brady's hands.  Albert Haynesworth, one of two big additions for the Pats in the offseason, hasn't been a big factor but with the way the run game has been for the Steelers lately, this is his chance to make an impact.  The Steelers' coaching staff needs to protect Ben otherwise it will be a long day for him.  Overall, the Steelers' offense needs to run on all cylinders and not turn the ball over, otherwise the Patriots will shred the Steelers again.

Defensively, again without James Harrison and just saw on CBS that James Farrior's out too.  Things have been okay defensively for the Steelers the past few weeks, but now they face a much better offense in the Pats.  The defensive front needs to not only put pressure on Brady, but also force him to make mistakes and sack him.  The Patriots have always been able to protect Brady well enough to let him make passes that lead to game-winning drives. His receiving corps is deadly, with Welker being the main factor.  Rob Gronkowski is also a major part of the offense as he's another option for Brady as his main tight end.  Chad Johnson is also going to be there, and while he hasn't been able to get on track this season, like Haynesworth, Chad will look to be a factor because he's played for years against the Steelers as a Bengal, and he'll see this as motivation to have a big day.  The Steelers defensive backfield needs to make sure they're all clicking like clockwork in order to stop the Pats, not letting the receivers get yards after the catch.  Ike needs to be careful, otherwise those penalties he got last week against the Cardinals will bite the Steelers in the end.  Troy Polamalu also needs to be an impact on defense, whether it's stopping Welker and the passing game or the run game.  Lamarr Woodley needs to step up his game big time and this is his shot to show that he isn't just feasting on less potent opposing offenses.  In short, the Steelers' defense has its chance to finally get over the hump, so to speak, against Belichick and Brady's Patriots, and use this as motivation to win another Super Bowl.

Special teams is also a factor, as Welker is dangerous in that area too.  The Steelers have been able to protect the ball and stop opposing teams' special teams, but they still need to keep it up against the Pats as field position will be crucial in this game.  We'll see how the Steelers respond today.

Overall, I do wish Hines was playing, really I do.  He has a chance to join an exclusive club, 12,000 career yards, but not today.  I know I said the Steelers could win without him and we don't need him today.  He can still be a factor later in the season, but it's best he doesn't play today to save him for later to prevent further injury.  Still, if he was healthy, he would be another key weapon for Ben's game.  Today, though, it's about the young receivers, Heath Miller, the running game, and the defense.  Ben needs to step up big game and show he's ready to lead this team again to a championship.  Hopefully it'll be much closer than last season's practical blowout in Pittsburgh, but I hope it's a Steelers win, 38-30.

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go!

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