Location: Pittsburgh PA; Stadium: Heinz Field; Weather: 45 degrees, partly cloudy; Kickoff: 8:30 PM ET; Line: Steelers +2.5; TV Coverage: NBC; Announcers: Al Michaels (play-by-play), Chris Collinsworth (analyst), Michele Tafoya (sideline); Coaches: Mike Tomlin (Steelers) vs. Marc Trestman (Bears)
Pittsburgh Steelers: It is nothing new to hear the Steelers are struggling in the 2013 season. After losing the first two games of the season, the Steelers need to find somewhere to get on track before their season hopes fade away quickly.
Offensively, the Steelers must generate yards on first and second down to convert more third downs. The Steelers rank 30th in the National Football League in converted third downs (converted 7 out of 25 third downs). According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers have the 26th ranked offensive line in the NFL. After a loss to their leader, Maurkice Pouncey, the offensive line has failed to find any rhythm. Center Fernando Velasco will continue to stay focused being the new starting center.
Defensively, the Steelers need to be themselves. Let Dick LeBeau dial up the crazy blitzes that he has, but maintain coverage on the back end. To this point, it seems Marc Trestman has done a great job with Jay Cutler, so it is important to bend defensively but not break. The Bears work their offense around running back Matt Forte. He is always involved whether in the passing game, running game, or play action pass game. The defense needs to stay focused and execute under the lights of Sunday night.
Chicago Bears: If the Bears want to advance to 3-0, their objective is to simply do what they have done two times now. Play 60 minutes of football. Quarterback, Jay Cutler ,has pulled off two wins late in the fourth quarter this season and they can not lose this execution.
Cutler’s biggest target, Brandon Marshall, will not be going against the typical cornerback on Sunday Night. Marshall is going head-to-head with Ike Taylor, who is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Not only is his cover skills superb, but he is arguably the most physical cornerback in the entire league. Last week, Taylor held A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals, to just six catches for 41 yards. Green’s longest reception was just eight yards.
Defensively, the Bears look very similar to the same 4-3 defense they ran under Lovie Smith, before he was fired from the helm. A lot of this has to do with the veteran players that are already sold on this defense and make it so special. Guys like Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs, and Julius Peppers really set the bar for this defense after the departure of long-time middle linebacker Brian Urlacher.
What to look for: 1. The return of Pro Bowl tight end Heath Miller. 2. Will the Steelers establish a run game? 3. Can the defense create a turnover?
Spotlight Player: Without a doubt the spotlight will be on tight end Heath Miller tonight as the Steelers have been without their veteran play maker since week 15 of the 2012 season.
Team Quotes: (Mike Tomlin on running game): “I think more than anything we need to be more detailed, and in order to get that we’re going to reduce the number of runs we’ll be executing tonight. We acknowledge we have a number of new guys and some young guys playing, and so we’re going to bring the game to them in an effort to get the quality of play that we desire.” (Todd Haley on substitutions): “We need to stay on the field and move the chains. We need to create more opportunities to get guys in there.”
Bottom Line: The bottom line is simply the Steelers need a win. The Steelers are facing what seems to be a must win. Can they do it is the question.
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