Re: Patriots-Steeler Matchup
posted at 10/31/2013 8:07 PM EDT
I see amazingly little good in the 2013 Steelers as a team. They are #27 in my all-numeric rankings.
Teams seem to get themselves psyched for divisional rivals. Pitts managed to squeak by Baltimore two weeks ago. Three weeks ago they played the New York Jets, a team and coach that worships the idea of concentrating on divisional rivals, but apparently the Jets took winless Pittsburgh far too lightly.
A glance at Pittsburgh's 2-5 record and a glance at their 5-11 power rating says that they don't expect any bonus points to accrue if they should beat New England. It's not a tiebreaker in the playoffs if you don't make the playoffs period, and a look at the AFC East shows that New England has little chance of being the #5 or #6 playoff seed. So, for Pittsburgh it's just one more game and not even an AFC North divisional game. Nor is New England the NFL's #1 pinnacle right now. That might be Denver, Seattle or New Orleans.
This isn't a trap game for New England, what with the bye week coming up.
So, what's wrong with a team that falls behind 3-4 Oakland 21 to 3 after three quarters? Pitts got the score closer with Oakland playing prevent, especially when they scored an 8 point touchdown with under 2 minutes to go in the game, but Pittsburgh couldn't execute an onside kick so naturally they lost.
Four weeks or so ago, proFootballFocus reported that Ben Roofies had some kind of curious throwing issue where he could only throw over the middle. He couldn't hit out routes.
The Steelers are 30th in running the ball. This doesn't sound one bit like the Steelers of old. Where's Jerome Bettus plowing into the line for six yards a carry?
Ben Roethlisberger was pressured on 16 snaps and passed for just 23 yards on those snaps.
They're 27th in stopping the run. The Pats will be running Ridley behind Gronkowski, which is an improvement, but they will miss Sebastian Vollmer's blocking. Cannon filling in at tackle was last week having trouble run-blocking, which should be his strength at 330 lbs.
Brady's grapefruit lump on his hand, probably injured in the Jets game, isn't even listed as an injury this week. His shoulder gets the publicity, but he's taking full reps at practice. Amendola may have shaken the rust off by now. The same goes for Gronkowski. Expect Brady, Gronk and Amendola to be more on the same page this week. BB gets credit for at least trying to inexpensively solidify the D-line at nose tackle this week. We might want to give New England at least one uptick. When Brady's on fire again and when the receivers are open all over the field as they were last year, it's back to party time.
Pittsburgh Injuries: Pitts has a big band-aid of an offensive line at this point. Tackle Levi Coffin, IR. Center Maurkice Pouncey, IR. Guard DeCastro, injured last week.
Special problem: Last week, Pittsburgh was twice unable to kick a field goal straight from less than 35 yards. In other news, if you need to pass your drivers test in Rhode Island, the critical sixth line from the top reads A E O N R T. Write it large on the palm of your hand and remember to speak it quickly and with confidence, Mr. Magoo.
My sense is that most of Pittsburgh's past problems are endemic and should show up again this weekend. I suspect that New England again lucks out with a weak opponent, although New England is pretty weak itself.