View Full Version : Next two opponents play to Steelers' strength

10-16-2007, 01:30 AM

Steelers' schedule was supposed to get tougher after off week, but that doesn't appear to be the case
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
Receiver Chad Johnson and the Bengals are off to a disappointing 1-4 start after winning the first game of the season against Baltimore.

The off week was supposed to be a high-water mark for the Steelers, a weekend that would separate their schedule from its soft underbelly into hardened reality.

Instead, it's more of the same.

For the only time between now and the last two games of the season, the Steelers play consecutive away games at Denver and at Cincinnati. Both were supposed to be playoff contenders this season, and neither has lived up to those expectations.

The Broncos lost their third in a row Sunday, 41-3, to San Diego. They have been outscored, 102-37, in those three games. Their only victories came in their first two games, by one point against Buffalo and in overtime against Oakland after the famous Mike Shanahan field-goal timeout negated what would have been Sebastian Janikowski's winner for the Raiders.
Nfl Week 7

But the Broncos look good compared to the Bengals, an odds-on pick to join Baltimore in finishing ahead of the Steelers in the AFC North when the season began.

Cincinnati is 1-4 after losing its fourth consecutive game Sunday, 27-20, to Kansas City. The Bengals' only victory came in their opener when the Ravens committed six turnovers and lost at Cincinnati, 27-20.

Not only that, the matchups for the Steelers the next two games seem to play right into their hands, or at least Willie Parker's feet.

The Steelers have the No. 2 rushing offense in the NFL behind Minnesota. They average 167 yards a game and 4.8 yards a carry. The Broncos are the worst in the league at stopping the run -- they allow 187.6 yards rushing a game. And Cincinnati's defense is not much better. The Bengals rank 29th at stopping the run, yielding 145.8 yards a game.

On paper, it looks like a mismatch where once the game in Denver seemed so enticing it prompted the NFL to make it the prime feature of the week by placing it on the Sunday night schedule on NBC-TV.

The Steelers, who returned for meetings yesterday after three days off, expect all of their injured starters to be ready, too. They include wide receivers Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, and Pro Bowl defenders strong safety Troy Polamalu and nose tackle Casey Hampton.

"I would assume everyone's coming back," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "It's a good time because we have a tough stretch coming up. ... Denver is obviously a tough place to play, a tough team, a very good defense. It's going to be a challenge for us."

Easy schedule?

Only three of the Steelers' next nine opponents own records above .500 through the first six weeks of the season:

Perhaps players must talk that way about their next opponent. The Broncos are ranked No. 1 in the NFL on pass defense, but that may be because opponents find it so easy to run against them. Denver is No. 1 in total passing yards allowed but only No. 19 in net passing yards per play.

Roethlisberger enters the game with 13 consecutive pass completions; three more and he will break Bubby Brister's 18-year-old record of 15. He also has thrown just three interceptions, on pace for his fewest as a pro. He threw only nine as a rookie in 2004 in 13 1/2 games. He led the NFL with 23 last season.

The Steelers, though, are more likely to try to do what everyone else has been able to against Denver's defense -- run the football. Willie Parker has 507 yards and a 4.2-yard average. Najeh Davenport has 209 yards and a 7.5-yard average backing up Parker and playing on third downs.

"Najeh is a situational spark plug for us," coach Mike Tomlin said. "He does a lot of things well. He's sneaky fast, he's a big guy, he can catch the ball, he's good on blitz pickup. The roles are starting to define themselves. But again, we're just kind of letting it happen naturally. We're doing what we need to do to win ball games. Willie Parker is our primary ballcarrier and Naj is a legitimate threat when we put him in there."

If all goes right, the Steelers should steam toward a Monday night meeting at home Nov. 5 against Baltimore, which seems to be their only threat in the AFC North. The Ravens are 4-2.

After that, the Steelers play Cleveland, and then against three teams that right now have two wins among them -- at the Jets (1-5), Miami (0-6) and Cincinnati (1-4).

"It's still early in the season, a lot of things can shape up a lot of different ways," Roethlisberger said.

This is where the rubber meets the road, where we put our noses to the grindstone, where we....well ok enough with the cliche's :lol: I don't care how easy the schedule may look; we know all too well how easily you can lose to a team with a worse record than you. If we pay attention and stay focused we can set ourselves up good heading into December...but that's a long way off and tons of football left to be played.

10-16-2007, 03:39 AM
Like i have already said its easy for us as fans and the media types to look at schedules and try to forsee the playoff picture. Thats just one more topic for this board to discuss, and im all for it!! As long as the team ignores the buzz and takes things week bye week. Like Coach says... "This is a big game for us, beacuse its the next game" and the guys are buying into it. Thats something i dont believe Cowher was able to do very well with the exception of '05!!!

10-16-2007, 08:22 AM
I honestly believe the Denver game will be the Tough Game that was originally expected.

I expect Denver to come out and look nothing like they have so far.
They were humiliated by San Diego two weeks ago at home in Mile High...and this is a Sunday Night Prime Time game.
Shanahan will have the Donks playing better football.

10-16-2007, 09:29 AM
I think we can beat denver without issues, now the bengals are a horrible team, but since they hate us, they just might use that as a motivation. but then again, im sure the feeling is mutual:lol:. I dont ant to say any win is definate though until we are 21-0 at half time:yesnod:

10-16-2007, 09:43 AM
. Like Coach says... "This is a big game for us, beacuse its the next game" and the guys are buying into it. Thats something i dont believe Cowher was able to do very well with the exception of '05!!!

I agree 100%. In '05 Cowher made it a one game season starting with Chicago...but he had no choice since we had to win all games to even make the playoffs. I like that Tomlin is taking this approach now!

10-16-2007, 10:43 AM
It seems to me that any game has the potential to be a trap. In the past even when the Bengals were at their worst they managed wins against us. Call it emotional energy, hatred or just the desire from the last humiliation....as has been said "any given Sunday". Every game has to be looked as a must win.

black an gold 4 life
10-16-2007, 01:44 PM
well i believe the steelers will have an different apporach they know they can't afford 2 sleep because the rat birds r only an game out. i believe that tomlin will have them focused, an i believe that the offense is due 4 an brake out game, once our offense catches up with the defense an special teams, man i know were gonna b an team 2 reckon with!!!!! but we have 2 stay hungry an focused.

10-16-2007, 09:54 PM
It seems to me that any game has the potential to be a trap. In the past even when the Bengals were at their worst they managed wins against us. Call it emotional energy, hatred or just the desire from the last humiliation....as has been said "any given Sunday". Every game has to be looked as a must win.

10-16-2007, 11:46 PM
Well to break the games down:

Denver: There Defense kinda plays into our hands. They have been getting gashed in the running game, so much so that they have been dubbed the worst running D in the league. But, they have also been the best pass D. Im not sure how much i agree w/ the notion "their pass D is good cause teams have had so much success running on them" W/ Bailey and Bly its not too hard to understand why teams havent had consistant success throwing on them. If you look at the Charger game, the stats can be a bit tricky. The "Great One" LT only had 75 yds on them on the ground, but had 75 recieving also. The burner Turner had the big day thanks to a 75yd td run.

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I think we need to come out and start by pounding willie and Dav at them relentlessly. See what we get. If successful, we need to start passing out of run formations w/ a lil play action. Thats a good way to attck the agressiveness of Champ and Dre. I like Miller and Ward to have a big game. What we can have is Ben trying to force thing out there this week. He needs to take what they give him which is gonna be underneeth stuff. Once they loosen up that soft middle of the D, then we can stretch it out w/ holmes. I think our O can have a all around dominant game if we stick the the run early to get the lead, and air it out to put the game out of reach!!! i see 31-10 Stillers!!!!

10-17-2007, 01:16 AM
As much as I hate the Donkeys (and their **** *** fair weather fans) I see this as a trap game. They may be last at run D but they have a ton of talent in the offense and in the secondary. Their front seven is not as bad as their ranking shows, they can break out and start stopping the run at any time. We can't take this game lightly or we will lose. :2cents:

That being said, I think Tomlin and company will take this game seriously and everyone will show up to play. My prediction Steelers 27, Donkeys 10.

I'm still hoping to be at this game.