Perhaps playing the Philadelphia Eagles will be just what the doctor ordered for the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday at Heinz Field. I’m certainly not suggesting that playing the Eagles is going to be a cakewalk, not by a long stretch. However, for a team at 1-2; looking to right the ship that has so far landed them at 3rd place in the division, playing an NFC opponent will not only be a nice change of scenery but also, historically speaking could be the lift they need.
Pittsburgh can hardly rely on history alone though if they want to get back on the winning track, but the football gods generally do smile on the Steel City at home against NFC teams.
According to CSNPhilly: “Since Heinz Field opened in 2001, the Steelers have lost just twice at home to NFC teams. They’re 19-2-1 during that stretch, with seven of the 19 wins coming by at least 21 points and only two of the games decided by less than a touchdown (a 21-16 win over Todd Bouman and the Vikings in 2001 and a 37-36 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in 2009). The Steelers’ last four home games against NFC opponents have been four wins by a combined 93-12. They haven’t allowed a touchdown at Heinz Field to an NFC team since 2009.
This is Roethlisberger’s ninth NFL season, and he’s lost 13 home games. Roethlisberger is 45-13 all-time at home and 13-1 vs. NFC teams, the loss coming to the Giants in 2008. In those 13 career home wins vs. NFC teams, Roethlisberger has 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. In his last five home starts vs. the NFC, Big Ben has seven TDs and no interceptions, and the Steelers have won by an average of 14 points.
The Eagles are 0-9 under Andy Reid on the road against AFC teams that went to the playoffs, and they’ve lost those nine games by an average of 17 points (32-15).”
Unlike the Oakland Raiders 2 weeks ago, the Eagles are clearly not an inferior team, talent or coaching wise. At 3-1, the Eagles haven’t been winning pretty but they have been winning. Their 3 victories so far this year have been by a combined 4 points, so they’re used to playing in close games.
Pittsburgh cannot afford to let this game slip into the 4th quarter with the score close; the Eagles have too many weapons on offense and can strike quickly if given the opportunity. Michael Vick, Shady McCoy, Jeremy Maclin, Desean Jackson, and Brent Celek have all been instrumental late in the game for Philly. While I’m not convinced the Steelers can beat the Eagles in a blowout, it sure would be nice.
The Steelers get a big lift this week as their injury report no longer includes any pro bowlers. James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, and Rashard Mendenhall will all play this Sunday as each practiced all week without any setbacks. Mike Tomlin will certainly spell each of those players throughout the game to not only keep them fresh for the 4th quarter but also help ease them back into football shape. As we’ve said several times this week, the emotional lift of having a full complement of starters on the field goes a long way.