If the Steelers have any hope of turning a very terrible season into a just plain bad season, they have to beat the Lions today. That may seem like a tough task, considering the Lions have a 6-3 record, the best wide receiver in football, a pretty good quarterback and running back too, and two dominating defensive linemen who will do their best to harass Ben Roethlisberger all day.
The things I think the Steelers have working in their favor today:
- Calvin Johnson missed two days of practice last week, so maybe he isn’t quite 100%. However, Megatron on his worst day is still better than 99% of wide receivers out there, so I’m not sure if this is anything to get too excited about.
- Despite an intimidating defensive line featuring Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the Lions have only sacked opposing quarterbacks 15 times this year. For comparison’s sake, that’s one less than the Steelers.
- The Lions defense also gives up a whole bunch of yards—they’re averaging 376 yards/game. That includes a secondary that’s giving up an average of 275 yards/game.
- This has “trap game” written all over it for the Lions. They could come in a little too overconfident and the Steelers could pull some tricks out of their sleeves. It could happen.
The things not working in the Steelers favor today:
- Megatron. He can’t be covered. The entire secondary could be hanging on that guy and he will still come down with the ball in his hands. Some defenses this year have managed to contain his yardage, but he still scores touchdowns even if he’s not putting up big receiving numbers. He’s an absolute force of nature.
- Reggie Bush. The woes of the Steelers run defense are well-documented, and Bush will certainly put them to the test. He’s a dual threat who can do anything asked of him. I expect to see a fair amount of rushing due to the Steelers poor run defense and the probable wet weather expected this afternoon.
- The Steelers offensive line versus Suh and Fairley. Despite the Lions defense not having many sacks this year, they will certainly get after Ben. The offensive line has been frustrating at best all season and every starting offensive linemen had some type of injury this week. Oh, and Ramon Foster probably won’t be playing.
- The Steelers offense has struggled all year, even including last week against the Bills. They settle for field goals way too often and that will not cut it against a very good Lions offense.
So how do the Steelers win this game?
- Score touchdowns. I say four, at least. This could be a shootout. The Lions offense scores a lot of points and their defense gives up a lot of points. It’s very possible to score four touchdowns against the Lions defense. But things are never easy for this Steelers offense. If the Steelers offense can keep up with the Lions offense, it’ll be a fun game.
- Protect Ben. This is a key to every game, but going against Suh makes me extremely nervous. He’s a good player and he’s a dirty player. Don’t want that guy anywhere near Roethlisberger.
- Force Matt Stafford into making mistakes. Stafford doesn’t get sacked very much, but the Steelers defense needs to get in his face and get some pressure on him.
- Hope that the rain and the Heinz Field turf combine to make this into a messy football game so no one can do anything at all. (Remember the Monday Night game against the Dolphins in 2007? A punt got stuck in the turf that night. Jeff Reed kicked a field goal with 17 seconds remaining in the game to give the Steelers a 3-0 win. Ah, good times!)
- Ben throws for over 300 yards.
- Stafford gets sacked twice
- Fan reaction if the Steelers lose, on a scale from one to nuclear: Hiroshima
- New fan reaction to the Steelers if they lose: Asking the Rooneys to SALE THE TEAM.
- I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Ndamukong Suh will NOT decapitate Ben.
- Breaking Steelers News before the game: Home games will continue to be played in Heinz Field.
- Bowing to pressure from fans and local media, the Steelers fire Mike Tomlin on the same day the Penguins fire Dan Bylsma. The Steelers hire Disco; the Pens hire Tomlin in a coaching switcheroo that will be made into a reality series. Bylsma brings in Kris Letang to play wide receiver; he immediately fumbles his first reception and the fumble is returned for a touchdown. Tomlin says hockey was “obviously” the next step for him and takes a timeout 2 seconds into his first game. Southwestern Pennsylvania burns.