12/19/21-The Black and Gold Are Still Alive

December 19, 2021 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia

Steelers 19. Titans 13.  That was the much-needed final score after a hard-fought contest between the men in black and gold and the AFC South leading Tennessee Titans. Tennessee could have moved into the number one seed in the AFC with a win but the Steelers defense held them in check and came up with the big plays when needed.

Without this win, the Steelers season would have been cooked.  They needed the win and they played like it, specifically on the defensive side of the ball where big plays were made and big stops happened in crucial moments.

As great as TJ Watt was, on a day when he had 1.5 sacks and set a new single season franchise sack record, it was the return of Joe Haden that made the biggest impact. Haden, who had missed the last 4 games, came up with a big fumble recovery and the game winning stop on 4th down, preventing the Titans from getting a first and goal, by mere inches. 

Haden’s return can’t be understated.  This defense looked alive and matched the energy of the crowd in a playoff atmosphere. In a lot of ways, it was a playoff game for Pittsburgh who would have fallen below .500 and with only 3 games to go, facing a difficult climb out of the cellar of a crowded AFC North. 

Instead, they now find themselves in the playoff mix and a possible division crown.  They’ll need to win their last two games vs. Cleveland and at Baltimore to make that a reality but before that, they must fly to Kansas City to face the mighty Chiefs who are now on a roll and are the AFC’s top seed. 

For the Steelers to win a second game in a row against a playoff bound team, they’ll have to step up the offensive output, more than they did against the Titans on this cold and dreary Pittsburgh afternoon.

Santa Claus is going to need to bring the Steelers a running attack. Moreso, he’s going to need to bring them an offensive line who can create holes for Najee Harris to run through.  Harris posted a measly 18 yards on 12 carries against the Titans and that low output sits squarely on the offensive line.  They get bullied off their blocks and don’t give Harris a moment to find a hole to attack.

Yet, the putrid offense is not just on the offensive line, Matt Canada, the Steelers Offensive Coordinator must stop being so predictable. He needs to allow his Hall of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger to play the style of football that he’s comfortable with and the offense will score far more than the 19 points they put up against Tennessee, if Canada can check his ego at the door.

Against Kansas City, they’re going to have to score over 25 points to really have a chance.  They can do it if Canada doesn’t get in the way.  The weapons are there. Diontae Johnson, Harris, Roethlisberger, hopefully Pat Friermuth comes back healthy, James Washington and Chase Claypool are all guys capable of making a splash play, if Canada either calls a play that allows for it or he allows Roethlisberger to draw it up himself.

Despite this big win against the Titans, it’s hard to believe Canada will change his ways. For the sake of the team, let’s all hope he does.  

 If Mike Tomlin and his offensive staff start to apply some of the learnings from the first 14 games, the Titans game included, they can take a little of the pressure off of Chris Boswell by putting up multiple touchdowns.

If they put up multiple touchdowns, the defense will play a little more relaxed and the blitz game becomes a significantly safer to execute and far more impactful. 

The team has 99 problems, or more, but their biggest flaws that must be fixed by the time they land in Kansas City are game planning, stopping the run, making adjustments, running a putrid offense that’s predictable and stale and getting off the field on third downs.

How they’ll flip the script in Kansas City is yet to be seen but I don’t think they are good enough to do it.

They can win against Cleveland and Baltimore but I see a 33-20 loss coming the day after Christmas.

That all said, this team is alive, and with a little help from some friends, and winning their final two, they can make it into the dance in January.

And that’s all that matters at this point in the year.


12/14/21-Steelers Still Have Shot At Playoff Run

December 14, 2021 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia

Thirteen games into a seventeen game schedule and the Pittsburgh Steelers sit alone in last place in the AFC North with a 6-6-1 record.  Despite that mediocre record and the fact the team is dead last, they still have a way to sneak into the playoffs, most likely as a division winner.

The Ravens, who sit at 8-5, atop the division currently, are starting to sink, ever since Pittsburgh beat them and it only gets harder for them as they have games remaining against the Packers, Bengals, Rams and then finish with the Steelers. Pittsburgh would have to win that last game in Baltimore and if they did, it’s not inconceivable for the Ravens to lose those other three, going 0-6 to finish their season. That would leave them with a final record of 8-9.  Sounds crazy but it’s a realistic possibility.

The Browns, who are currently 7-6 and in second place, finish with the Raiders, Packers, Steelers and Bengals.  Let’s again assume the Steelers win this one and the Browns go 2-1 in their other three, beating the Raiders and Bengals (which is no easy task), that leaves them at 9-8. 

Cincinnati currently sits third in the AFC North at 7-6 and they are the team that I believe is truly the best in the division but they finish with the Broncos, Ravens, Chiefs and Browns.  They could win all of those games but it’s not a hard sell to think they may go 2-2 down the stretch with that schedule, finishing at 9-8 as well.

That all brings us to the Steelers who don’t exactly have it easy and are far from a good team but they finish with the Titans, Chiefs, Browns and Ravens.  I’ve already mentioned they need to beat the Browns and Ravens, which I think they can do and have done already this season, meaning if they can find a way to split with the Titans and Chiefs, most likely the Titans game at home, they will finish 3-1 down the stretch and 9-7-1 overall, winning the division by a half game and slipping into the number four seed. 

With that all said, the Steelers have some serious issues and I think it would be hard to overcome a lot of those to go 3-1.

First and foremost, they have far too many injuries to overcome, Stephon Tuitt in all likelihood will not return this season, Tyson Alualu is out of the year, Joe Haden has missed significant time, TJ Watt has missed chunks of games despite is all world season, and Alex Highsmith has found himself sidelined as well.  Haden, Watt and Highsmith all need to play the last four games. Without them, the team has no chance.

It’s not just injuries on the defense, however. Cam Heyward and Watt have been DPOY level players but the rest of the defense has been struggling.  They rank 27th in overall defense allowing 231.8 passing yards per game and shockingly 139.5 rushing yards per game.  These are unacceptable numbers for a unit that had expectations of being the best in the league coming into the season. Granted, it’s unrealistic to expect backups to play at the same level as starters but guys like Devin Bush need to step up. He’s not the only one but I’m singling him out because he’s been glaringly bad in both the run and pass game. The unit is talented enough to fix things and help make that 3-1 stretch a reality but it better start now.

Offensively, Ben Roethlisberger isn’t what he used to be but he’s far from the problem.  The offensive line is young, inexperienced and unable to protect Ben or create the necessary blocks for rookie sensation Najee Harris to break off long runs.  Matt Canada and his play calling is garbage. The sweeping changes that he was going to implement haven’t happened and while he may prefer motion and mobility from his quarterback, a good coach will design schemes and call plays that fit the talent that he has. Roethlisberger can still sling it and does so when he calls his own plays. When Canada calls the plays, expect a dump off or a run up the middle. It’s not working.  If the team allows Ben to call most of the plays from a no huddle, utilize guys like Diontae Johnson and Harris and go deep to Chase Claypool (who needs to focus more), then the offense can ideally put together more complete games vs. a couple of fourth quarters comebacks that fall short, as happened in Los Angeles and Minnesota.

While I think the team is capable of doing these items, they’ve shown flashes, with it being this late in the season and a lot of work still needing to be done, I think it will be hard, yet not out of the realm of possibility for the Steelers to go 3-1, win the North and play post season football.

10/18/21-Bye Week Provides Time To Fix Issues

October 18, 2021 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia

After six weeks of play, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves sitting on a 3-3 record as they head into their bye week.  It’s not an ideal record, but one they’ll gladly take after their putrid 1-3 start.

Prior to the season, I had predicted the Steelers would finish the year 11-6 and contend for the division crown.  Within that prediction, I believed they would be 4-2 at this point of the season, with a possibility of being 3-3.  That 11-6 record is still achievable, albeit unlikely.

This team, despite the two game winning streak is missing the ‘it’ factor right now.  They have holes they need to plug, quickly. 

Many are screaming and yelling at anyone that will listen; that the biggest hole on the team is Ben Roethlisberger.  They can scream and yell all they want, but he’s not the problem.  He’s not the same as he once was, but he is far from the main issue that this team needs to fix over the off week.

Roethlisberger has completed 65% of his passes for 1,515 yards and seven touchdowns.  He’s only thrown four picks in that same time frame. No, those are not gaudy numbers like Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers put up, but they are efficient and manageable.

As a side note, can we all please stop with the Rodgers to Pittsburgh talk.  Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t, but save it for the off season fodder. 

But what Roethlisberger is doing isn’t atrocious.  He’s playing within the confines of what he has around him. The team averages 323 yards per game, which is ranked a mere 23rd in the league.  They are 17th in passing with 242 yards per game and a lousy 29th in rushing with a dismal 81 yards per game. 

Before I dig deeper, I will absolve Najee Harris from being a part of any of the offensive issues.  He’s been a fantastic player and will only get better as the season progresses. My one concern with him is that he has absolutely no help behind him.  If he can’t take a breather, he’s going to be run into the ground and worn out by seasons end.  Someone needs to step up.  I’m looking towards Anthony McFarland to be that guy, upon his return.

But the real problem right now is the offensive line.  Yep, the line.  And we all should have seen this coming.  They are young and inexperienced, what more could we have expected?  Zach Banner is going to be back soon and while some think he may help the line, I don’t.  He hasn’t shown me anything in the extremely limited amount of time he’s been on the field, that suggests he’ll bring some measurable improvement to that unit.

They need reps, schematics, and a bit of luck to get better over the bye.  I also think it may need to sign a veteran off the streets to bolster the depth of this unit.  As a result of their youth and inexperience, they have contributed to the offense only averaging 19.5 points per game, 25th in the league.  You cannot win many ballgames when you aren’t scoring over 20 points per game.  Just take a look at the teams that rank behind them in this category for further proof, Jacksonville, the New York Giants, Detroit, Miami, Chicago, Houston and the New York Jets. Enough said.

For that scoring average to come up, I’m looking for Matt Canada to find a way to get Pat Friermuth and Chase Claypool more involved moving forward. They are and should be red zone threats and Claypool in particular needs to win more jump ball situations.  If the line can give Ben more than 2.3 seconds to throw, involving these guys will be significantly easier.

But not all the issues fall on offense.  The defense has a few of their own.  TJ Watt and Cam Heyward are fantastic and can carry the team but they need help. If and when Stephon Tuitt returns, the line will get a huge boost.  Without him, a unit that should be ranked in the top five overall, rank 13th allowing 352 yards per game. They are 9th in rushing defense at 107 yards per game and 16th in passing at 244.  All of this combined contributes to them allowing 22 points per game, good for 12th in the league.

As stated earlier, the offense only scores 19.5 points per game so something has to give somewhere.

The team isn’t getting many sakcs, aside from TJ Watt’s seven.  They aren’t creating turnovers and they appear to be vulnerable in the secondary with Minkah Fitzpatrick not showing his full potential yet this season and Terrell Edmunds being an average player.  The main issue in the secondary is the depth, however.  Joe Haden and Cam Sutton are fine players but they can’t take a play, let alone a game off because the rest of the unit gets thrashed.  I think it would have behooved the front office to keep Steven Nelson here for another season but I digress.

Even with the apparent issues this defense may have, I do trust them overall.  I think they are the heart of this team and will be the reason the Steelers can make a run towards the playoffs and approach a winning record down the stretch. 

It won’t be an easy final eleven games but if Pittsburgh can use the bye week to fix a few issues and get healthy, they have some winnable games coming up that will allow them to play meaningful games in December and January.


9/21/21Where Do The Steelers Go From Here?

September 20, 2021 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia


Before the 2021 season started, if you had told the Steelers faithful that the team would be 1-1 after two weeks of play, they would have jumped at that.  Everyone, including myself expected that.  The difference, the results of the games thus far has been the opposite of how most thought.

In week one, Pittsburgh went into Buffalo and despite a relatively poor offensive performance, they rode the backs of their defense to steal a big victory.  Yet, in week two, playing a Las Vegas team who had played an overtime game on Monday night and had to come halfway across the country to play in Pittsburgh for the home opener, the Steelers offense, and in big spots, the defense, laid an egg, dropping the team to that expected 1-1 record. 

It may have been done in an unorthodox manner but the Steelers are exactly where we though they’d be.

The problem right now is the offense is no better off than they were in 2020. In fact, you could argue the running game is actually worse. Through two games in 2020, the Steelers had rushed for 250 yards.  Through two games this season, they’ve rushed for 114.  Where’s this renaissance that Matt Canada was going to bring to this team?  Why did you draft Najee Harris with your first round pick if you don’t have a line that he can run behind?  While it’s still extremely early, the team must start to think about, and answer these questions.

The offensive line is young and inexperienced and while I do expect them to get better as the season progresses, they aren’t going to allow Ben Roethlisberger to make it through the season if they don’t start progressing sooner than later.  Najee Harris won’t gain 1,000 yards, let alone the 1,200-1,400 many predicted if these guys can’t create holes. 

The offense that couldn’t and wouldn’t go downfield in 2020 that everyone thought Matt Canada would fix in 2021, won’t be fixed if things don’t change upfront, fast.  Ben Roethlisberger catches a lot of heat for not throwing deep but how can he? He needs to release the ball in about 2.3 seconds or else he’s going to be hit.  How can the team utilize Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster or even James Washington the way they should be utilized when they’re dealing with that? 

Defensively, the Steelers looked as good as anyone in the league in week one.  Then, the injury bug hit.  Stephon Tuitt remains out through at least week three. Joe Haden and Devin Bush may or may not play this week vs. Cincinnati as they are nursing groin injuries and the same is true for the teams best player and sack master TJ Watt.  To add insult to injury, Pittsburgh has lost Tyson AluAlu for the season with a fractured ankle. 

The secondary looks week and James Pierre is no replacement for Joe Haden.  Minkah Fitzpatrick can’t make splash plays when his top corner is out.  Pierre, Haden and Cam Sutton won’t be able to cover the deep threats of opposing teams if TJ Watt is out of the game, as proven vs. Las Vegas.  With no truly effective pass rush, the Steelers defense was exposed. 

I would be shocked, as the team heads into week three to play the Bengals if the Bengals didn’t plan to go deep on the Steelers early and often.  The Steelers are going to need to keep Joe Burrow contained and hit him early and often to prevent any big plays from happening in the secondary.  The question is, if these key players don’t play again this week, do they have the horses to do it?  Based on what we saw vs. the Raiders, the answer may be no. 

Offensively against Cincinnati, the Steelers must find a way to run the ball. The offensive line has to block longer, create holes and allow Najee Harris to break free. Harris is capable of game changing plays, if he’s given the opportunity to make one.  If he’s not, which I don’t think he will be, the Steelers are going to have to make their run game come from the short passing game, as they did in 2020.  Steelers fans won’t like it, but they won’t have a choice. 

This coming Sunday, look for the Steelers to use a lot of screen and short dump offs to gain four and five yards at a time.  I do believe they need to, and will, utilize some tight end packages and get Pat Friermuth involved more. 

If the Steelers can effectively rush Joe Burrow and they can find a way to create some form of a running game, they can win this game against Cincinnati while nursing the injuries they have. 

The good news for Pittsburgh is they are playing the Bengals and not a team like the Chiefs and I think this team, even as depleted as they may be, will find a way to do just enough. It won’t be pretty but they’ll take the win.

Steelers 23  Bengals 17

1/28/30-Steel Nation Radio – Season Wrap Up – Free Agent Preview

January 28, 2021 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia

The Steelers season came to a crashing end a few weeks ago and I put a final stamp on that and preview the upcoming off season and free agents they must and should keep and ones to turn away.  Find it all right here:

1/4/20-Steelers Prepare For Playoff Matchup Vs. Browns

January 4, 2021 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia

The Pittsburgh Steelers just wrapped up a 12-4 season winning the AFC North and earning the number three seed in the AFC playoffs. As such, the team will host the Cleveland Browns this coming Sunday night in a rematch of the season finale won by the Browns 24-22. 

The Browns are a much improved team and are capable of beating the Steelers if they bring their ‘A’ game but the Steelers and their millions of fans must be feeling pretty good about the recent loss to the Browns considering the Browns were playing for their playoff lives and the Steelers essentially rolled out their JV squad for the game. 

After beating Cleveland 38-7 in their first matchup and barely losing 24-22 in their second tilt, Pittsburgh gets to host the third and most important game between these old rivals for the right to move into round two of the NFL playoffs.

 It won’t be an easy game, the Browns have a very solid offense, one that produced 2,374 rushing yards, led by Nick Chubb’s 1,067 yards and Kareem Hunt’s 841.  It will be the primary focus of the defense to stop both Chubb and Hunt at the line, meaning Tyson Alualu, Vince Williams and Avery Williamson specifically, need to plug holes and pressure the Browns offensive line early and often.  If the Steelers are able to stuff the run, or at least neutralize it, they can take away the Browns play action, and force the ball into Baker Mayfield’s hands.

Mayfield is a solid quarterback and had a strong 2020 campaign. He threw for over 3,500 yards and 26 touchdown passes to only eight interceptions but he can be forced into bad throws and make mistakes.  The Steelers, who led the league with 56 sacks, tallied eight of those sacks against Mayfield in the two games they faced him, accounting for 31% of the time Mayfield was sacked all season.  Rushing TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith from the edge while bringing pressure ( the team led the league with a 33.8% pressure rate) with Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt will be the key to success against Mayfield.  He’s a nimble athlete and he can scramble a bit but if the Steelers can keep him in the pocket, they’ll be able to put him on the ground and keep him from hitting Jarvis Landry down the side for any big plays.  I look for the defense to add another four sacks this coming weekend and really keep the Browns offense on edge all game long. 

Offensively, I’m looking for Ben Roethlisberger to take over. He’s played in several big games in his career and the pressure shouldn’t get to him.  I fully believe the team needs to run more no huddle offense this Sunday and keep the Browns defense on their toes. Roethlisberger completed 65% of his passes this season with most being thrown for short yardage plays but he proved against the Colts in the second half of that game a few weeks ago that he is indeed still capable of throwing deep. Randy Fichtner needs to let Ben play is brand of football otherwise this team will exit early. 

Pittsburgh needs to take advantage of rookie Chase Claypool who is a great jump ball and deep ball threat, along with Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster, obviously, but I firmly believe they must try to establish the run to set up play action.  The team is far more effective passing the ball when they show some threat running it.  James Conner needs to get the ball 20-25 times and average 4.0 yards per carry or more to really help elevate the Steelers offense.  On top of that, mixing in Anthony McFarland with his quick burst of speed would be a nice addition to the offense but perhaps most importantly, I would really like to see the offense sprinkle in some Josh Dobbs plays.  Against the Browns this past week, he was able to effectively move the ball on a few plays and I believe he brings another element to the offense with his legs that neither Roethlisberger nor Mason Rudolph can. 

Lastly, they must keep Myles Garrett away from Roethlisberger.  Garrett is a fantastic pass rusher and is no easy task to stop. Pittsburgh may want to consider bringing in extra help to chip him or add another man to block him, he’s that good.

If the Steelers can stuff the run, contain Mayfield, set up play action and run the no huddle offense, they will make quick work of Cleveland on Sunday night and advance to the divisional round of the playoffs. I think that is exactly what will happen with a Steelers victory of 30-17.


12/10/20-STEEL NATION RADIO – WFT Wrap Up and Bills Preview

December 10, 2020 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia

The Steelers are coming off of their first loss of the season and now face another tough matchup when they travel to Buffalo to face the AFC East leading Bills.  What will the team need to do to get a ‘W’?  Find out in the latest podcast.


12/8/20-Steelers Need To Improve Quickly

December 8, 2020 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia


The Pittsburgh Steelers are 11-1 but that one loss just happened against an admittedly improving, yet still bad, Washington Football Team at home on Monday Evening Football. 

Over the last two weeks the Steelers haven’t played well and certainly haven’t looked like a Super Bowl contender. 

They struggled against a beat up Ravens team and then lost to a Washington team that had no business being in the same stadium.

Many folks will make excuses such as the Steelers had players on the COVID list or out due to injury and were playing on four days rest while the Washington team had 11.  Those are facts. They are not excuses.  In fact, the loss to Washington is inexcusable for a team who is undefeated and playing for the number one seed in the month of December.  It just can’t happen.

The Steelers have now become plagued by the dropped pass, having 12 drops over the past two weeks, most notably by Diontae Johnson.  And while the team averages 28.8 points per game on the season, good for 6th in the league, they are averaging only 18 per game over their latest 1-1 stretch. 

They have been unable to run the ball and are 27th in the league in that category and have opted for the short dink and dunk passes and seeing Ben Roethlisberger throw the ball over 50 times a game to make up for the lack of a ground attack.  It doesn’t work when that’s all you do and the defense knows that’s all you do. 

As the Steelers prepare for their upcoming game against the Buffalo Bills this coming Sunday Night, they need to rethink their offensive attack.  The Bills are 24th in the NFL against the run, allowing 129 yards per game.  The Steelers need to scrap the short passes that are being dropped half of the time anyway in lieu of trying to establish a running game.  Whether it’s James Conner, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland or Jaylen Samuels, someone needs to run the football effectively to control the clock as well as keep the defense honest and open up the passing attack for Roethlisberger and the plethora of wide receivers this team has. 

If the Steelers can do that, they will have success down the field against the Bills 17th ranked pass defense.  In order for the Steelers to make things flow, they need to get Chase Claypool back in the game on the deep ball.  They need to have Roethlisberger hold the ball for a little bit longer and eliminate some of these quick throws to nowhere and most of all they need to run the football and eliminate the dropped passes.  The Buffalo Bills don’t play defense well but they will do enough to stifle the Steelers if they know what’s coming every down!

Defensively, the Steelers are going to need to blitz Josh Allen but will need to get to him quickly. Allen is fast and nimble and in addition to his over 3,000 passing yards, he has over 300 rushing yards and six touchdowns.  He’s dangerous and he needs to be the primary focus on defense.  Without Bud Dupree, Alex Highsmith is going to have to step up and do a lot more than he did against Washington, where he only had two solo tackles.  The next man up philosophy of Mike Tomlin must carry through. 

If Pittsburgh is unable to pressure Allen, he’ll be looking to his favorite target, Stefon Diggs who leads the Bills with over 80 catches and 1,000 yards receiving.  He’s dangerous and with a banged up secondary, could cause nightmares for the seemingly struggling Steeler team who will be licking their wounds.

In addition to the offense needing to revamp to a more controlled style led by a rushing attack that opens up the pass and the defense bull rushing Josh Allen, Mike Tomlin is going to need to put points on the board when they become available to him unlike his choices against the Washington Football Team.  In my opinion he left six points on the field and while we have no way of knowing if the field goals he didn’t elect to kick would be good, it would have changed the complexion of the game if he had attempted them.  

Unfortunately Steeler Nation, while I still think the Steelers will be contenders of some kind down the stretch, they have fallen back to the pack and I don’t believe they will beat the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night. 

Final score:  Buffalo 24  Pittsburgh 17

10/30/20-Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens

October 30, 2020 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia


The Pittsburgh Steelers roll into Baltimore at 6-0 to face the 5-1 Ravens on Sunday afternoon.  The battle for AFC North supremacy will be a good one.  As always, I expect this game to come down to the end and be decided by a touchdown or less. 

The Steelers main concern will be stopping NFL reigning MVP, quarterback Lamar Jackson.  Jackson has only thrown two interceptions this season compared to his 10 touchdown passes and leads the Ravens in rushing yards with 346, with another two scores. 

Unlike previous games where the Steelers largely stuffed the oppositions running back, Jackson provides a different element the team hasn’t seen yet this season.  He’s a scrambler that can make plays happen at any time. If the Steelers collapse the pocket, Jackson will take off and someone is going to have to stop him. 

I’m looking for Vince Williams and Robert Spillane to step up and keep him contained but that’s no easy task.  If he gets past them, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Terrell Edmunds better be there to prevent the long yardage gains. 

The entire key to the game will be limiting Jackson’s mobility.  While he completes 63% of his passes and has a 99.2 passer rating, I don’t fear his arms as much as I do his legs.  Jackson can be forced into mistakes and that’s where edge rushers TJ Watt and Bud Dupree will be a factor.  If they can collapse the pocket and force Jackson to throw vs. run, the Steelers will have far more success on defense. 

Jackson certainly hasn’t seen a defense as quick as the Steelers this season yet and he’ll be challenged by the black and gold as much as he’ll challenge them. 

Defensively, the Ravens are good but the guy who has the biggest impact in my mind is Calais Campbell. He leads the team in sacks (4) and tackles for loss (6) and has had some big games against the Steelers in the past.

The goal for the Steelers offense should be to control the clock and keep Ben Roethlisberger off the ground.  James Conner may need to run the ball 20-25 times and average at least four yards per carry. I’ve given Conner a lot of grief over the past year but I have to admit, he’s had a very productive season thus far and he really could be the difference in the game this week.

What it will most likely come down to will be special teams and penalties.  The team who commits the most stupid penalties or doesn’t kick well will be the one who has their backs against the wall at the end of the game.  Jordan Berry and Chris Boswell need to be effective in their punts and kickoffs to ensure the defense is set up on the Ravens side of the field and Boswell needs to remain perfect in his field goal and extra point accuracy.

At the end of the day, we are looking at two Super Bowl contenders who are trying to win one of the best divisions in the NFL to ensure a home game in the playoffs. This is the first of two epic battles to come and I fully expect the teams to split the season series.  With that said, I think the Ravens will get this first one and discontinue the Steelers perfect season by the score of 23-20.

10/23/20-Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans

October 23, 2020 by  
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By: Mike Pelaia


When the 2020 schedule first came out and I saw the Titans were on it, I did not think much more than “that’s a W” for the Steelers.  Six weeks and five games into the season, it’s clearly no guarantee.

The Titans, last years surprise team, are at it again with their 5-0 start.  The Steelers, this years come back team, are also sitting at 5-0 and are ready to really see what they are made of. 

As the black and gold travels do Tennessee to take on the team who fell one game short of the Super Bowl last season, they’ll have to do so without starting inside linebacker and defensive signal caller Devin Bush.  This will be the first game without him and it remains to be seen how badly he will be missed.  Derrick Henry will be sure to test Bush’s replacement, Robert Spillane.  Henry is a monster, who through only five games has the most rushing yards in the league at 588.  He’s a powerful, quick back who can dominate a defense and carry an offense and I fully anticipate he’ll see his number called frequently on Sunday afternoon. 

The Steelers run defense has been stout, but it hasn’t been tested so until Spillane proves he can play with the big boys, Henry will get the call.  However, if the defense proves they can stuff Henry has they have done against other top backs this season, Ryan Tannehill will be the man the Titans will rely upon and he’s no slouch either. Tannehill boasts 13 touchdown passes to only two interceptions on the season while completing nearly 70% of his passes.  He’s not one to make mistakes and the Steelers will need to apply serious pressure on him all day long in order to force him to dup the ball quickly.

Since the Titans can score points on anyone, I’m looking for the Steelers offense to be the unit that needs to step up and ultimately decide the outcome of this game. Look for James Conner to continue to run hard (I’ve bashed him but he’s doing well lately) and the Big Ben to Chase Claypool connection to continue to shine.  I’m personally looking for a lot more out of JuJu Smith-Schuster this Sunday as he’s been a bit disappointing as of late. 

If he can’t or doesn’t deliver, I have full confidence in James Washington and Diontae Johnson to spread the defense as well.  Either way, I look for a high powered offense going up and down the field out of necessity.

At the end of the day, I don’t think the Steelers are ready to take on the Titans and win and they will ultimately fall short as they won’t be able to stop Derrick Henry. 

Titans 33   Steelers 27

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