Troy Polamalu delivers hits like he sells shampoo. Screen cap by Jamie Pacheco
Earlier this week, Ian from The Steelers n’at blog and I exchanged questions and answers about each other’s respective teams in preparation for the big Patriots/Steelers Sunday night. You can read my answers to his questions by clicking here. Continue reading to check on his answers to my questions about the Pittsburgh Steelers.
1. What is your view on how the injuries along the offensive line will affect the team’s performance? Can they piece it together effectively?
The Steelers have lost both of their OTs from last season to IR this year. Now, we’re looking at Jonathan Scott, free agent acquisition from Buffalo, to protect Ben’s blind side. Scott has been decent in spot duty this year, but not spectacular. Maurkice Pouncey has been an absolute monster inside and deserves serious consideration in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. (For the record, we’d vote for Bradford first, Pouncey second). At guard, Ramon Foster filled in for Chris Kemoeatu last season and did a good job in pass protection. Foster doesn’t have the foot quickness that Kemoeatu does, and is a little slower when he pulls, but he can hold his own in straight-ahead run blocking. To be honest, considering that most of our big plays come off Ben improvising, I don’t think it really matters who is in front of him.
2. Do you feel that the Steelers will try and mash the Pats like the Browns did or try and take advantage of the young secondary with Big Ben?
I think the Patriots will see a steady diet of Rashard Mendenhall, but Ben will air it out as well. The Steelers have been more balanced in their attack this year, but with downfield weapons like Mike Wallace, we will take 4-5 shots downfield. Heath Miller has been surprisingly quiet this year, but with the type of blitzes we’ve been seeing (A and B-gap blitzes), one would think Miller would thrive in an open middle of the field. In our opinion, it’s only a matter of time before Heath has a huge game.
3. Who is the most indispensable player on the Steelers and why?
Troy Polamalu, hands down. The fact that the Steelers went 3-1 without Ben Roethlisberger is proof that this team has the talent to win games, even without Roethlisberger on the field. Ben does make this team a legitimate contender, but Troy is the real key to the team. Look at last season, when after Troy went down in the second Cincinnati game, the Steelers dropped 5 straight games. Their secondary was picked apart, particularly late in games, without Troy in there. Troy’s versatility makes a huge difference in the way the defense can scheme and attack the opposing offense.
4. What is one advantage you think the Patriots have over the Steelers?
Wes Welker vs. Bryant McFadden. The way the Steelers defensive scheme works, the corners tend to give cushions and play deeper to prevent big plays. The Steelers will give you the 3-yard swing pass and the 9-yard out-route all game. Ike Taylor is a lot better at playing man-on-man coverage, including press from the line of scrimmage. On the other side, McFadden is much better when giving a cushion then coming up and making a tackle. Against a guy like Welker, you have to bump him at the line to throw off the timing routes. If B-Mac plays off of Welker, look for Wes to tear the Steelers up.
5. Game prediction?
This game has all the feelings of a shootout. My gut says that the team who gets the ball last is probably going to win. Both teams have some question marks in the secondary, and it really wouldn’t surprise us to see both teams put up over 30. New England won’t be able to run on the Steelers, but if the Steelers can control the clock and force a few turnovers, they can come out on top. We’ll say 31-27 Steelers.
Topics:New England Patriots, NFL, NFL Game Predictions, NFL Game Preview, Patriots Game Preview, Pittsburgh Steelers