Friday, October 17, 2008
Steelers must win coming off the Bye
No doubt Bengal fans are still blaming Kimo's legal hit on Carson Palmer for all the woes that have befallen the pathetic Bungles from that point forward. However, the Bengals have been playing better as of late, giving Dallas a run for their money. Luckily, we have James Harrison supplexing Chad Ocho Johnson to give us comfort. And one Carsson Palmer is out. Welcome to Blitzburgh Ryan Fitzpatrick!
This game is very important for the Steelers. Here is why I am calling it a must win: after this week we have the Giants, the 'Skins, Indy and then San Diego. All games we could lose. Currently, we have a two game lead in the division and have not lost a division or conference game. A win Sunday puts us at 5-1 and firmly in the driver's seat in the AFC North. It is crucial to get this win and give us some breathing room. With our schedule there is little margin for error. We need to win the games we are supposed to win. This is clearly one of those games.
Interesting bye week with all the injury story lines. First Willie was coming back. Then somehow a mysterious hole in our practice field appears swallows up his leg and now he is doubtful. Mewelde Moore, show us what you can do once again. Keisel returns which should help with keeping the D-line fresh later into the game but the backups played great in his abscence. Marvel Smith could be out with back spasms. Who will be taking his place? Trai E... nope, the most expensive backup in the league-Max Starks everybody. Last game, when Marvel went down Trai Essex came in to replace him, much to my surprise, especially with the way Max performed last year in relief at left tackle. Now Max will play. I didn't think Essex did that poorly. Clearly, something is going on behind the scenes between Max and the organization. No other logical explanation comes to mind why he hasn't been given a chance to play.
This week should reveal to us alot about our O-Line. Cincinnati is dead last in the league against the rush giving up 156.8 yards per game. Running is generally our strenghth. If we can't push around the Bungs (not to be confused with Bungy), things are not looking good for the rest of the season. The Bengals aren't much better at creating sacks. They are next to last in the league with only 5 sacks so far this year. Let's hope our line can hold them to their average of less than 1 sack per game. If we let up 2 or more sacks, curtains for the rest of the season because Ben won't have any more limbs.
When we are on Defense, the Bungs should be in trouble. Their O-line has given up the same amount of sacks we have, with 19. Our D has generated 18 sacks thus far which is 3 per game. They give up an average of about 3 per game. Advantage Steez. Another major advantage is that Ryan Fitzpatrick has never witnessed anything close to what he is about to see from the Steel Curtain. Nor has he faced a D with our speed at linebacker yet this year. I predict more than a couple turnovers from the team formerly known as the Bengals which will result for points for the Steez.
Cin offense is 28th overall in the league and I do not expect that many points out of them.
Cin pass defense is their strength. I hope to see alot of balls thrown to RB's out of the backfield and with screens and to TE's over the middle. If we do this, hopefully it will loosen coverage on Santonia and HInes and we can hit some stuff downfield.
I am excited that we have our first sighting of 2nd round draft pick Limas Sweed on Sunday. His development to this point has been less than promising.
My prediction: Steelers 34-Cin 10