12/21/18-Pittsburgh Steelers at New Orleans Saints

By: Mike Pelaia

The Steelers may have saved their season this past Sunday when they took care of business against the Patriots, coming out on top of their longtime nemesis, 17-10.  The challenge doesn’t get any easier this week as they head out of town to New Orleans to face the 12-2 Saints.

To me, the Saints are the best and most complete team in football and the Steelers will have their hands full.  If the Ravens lose to the Chargers on Saturday evening and the Steelers pull off the victory on Sunday, the black and gold will punch their division title playoff ticket.  Should both teams win or lose, the saga will go on for one more week. Should the Ravens win and the Steelers lose, the team will find itself in some serious trouble headed into game 16.


Here Are The Keys To Victory:


Contain Drew Brees and Michael Thomas:

Drew Brees is a leading candidate to win NFL MVP and his top receiver Michael Thomas knows exactly why.  Thomas has 109 receptions and 1,267 yards to go along with eight touchdowns this season so far. He knows how to get open and get open often. Joe Haden will be tasked with covering him and that’s no easy ask.  Haden may be able to slow him down but he will certainly need safety help.

Brees is as accurate as the come, with a 75% completion percentage and 31 touchdowns thrown vs. only five interceptions all season.  The front seven will need to apply heavy pressure in order to force quick throws and keep the ball away for Thomas.  You know Brees will complete the pass but the defense needs to ensure those passes are for short yardage only.


The Offensive Line Must Keep Cameron Jordan Away From Ben:

Cameron Jordan came out this week and stated Ben Roetlhisberger isn’t a hall of fame player and isn’t a top five player of his era. 

First of all, how ignorant is that?  Secondly, he’s going to regret saying it when Ben torches his defense this week. 

However, Jordan is a heck of a defensive end and he possesses 12 sacks already this season. He’s a force to be reckoned with and the O Line will need to ensure they keep him out of the backfield. If they get beat, Jordan will wreak havoc on the offense all day long.


Antonio Brown Must Step Up:

Antonio Brown is in the midst of another fantastic season but it is sometimes overshadowed by the year that JuJu Smith-Schuster is having.  JuJu hurt his groin in practice this week and his availability is in question. If he’s able to play, how effective will he be? 

Brown is more than capable of taking a game over and he’ll need to do so on Sunday to help move the offense down the field in the event JuJu is not out there or not 100%


Chris Boswell Must Make His Kicks:

A bit redundant at this point but Chris Boswell cannot miss any more kicks down the stretch here. He missed another big kick vs. the Pats last week that almost cost them the game. Yet, he did hit a critical 48 yarder in the fourth quarter. We’ll find out if that kick propelled him back to the top of his game or if he’ll go back to missing his kicks. In a game that I fully expect to be a shootout, every point is needed and Boswell cannot blow it by missing yet another short field goal or extra point. If he does, the black and gold won’t be as lucky to win this time around.


It’s going to be another battle this week and one that will probably come down to the fourth quarter once again. I think the Steelers will be unable to stop the Saints and unfortunately won’t come out on top as they’ll lose 34-24.


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