Now that New England beat Indy and My Steelers had such a strong showing against Baltimore, the discussion has moved to the only team left on the schedule that even has a chance of beating the Patriots, according to the media at least. But even though the Steelers are in the discussion as the only team that could beat the Patriots, truthfully nobody's giving them a chance. New England is the "Golden" team (puke puke puke), infallible and unbeatable (well, except for the cheating and all that, but that's been quickly brushed aside by their crushing of every team in their path). Has anybody mentioned their fairly easy schedule with their incredibly easy division? The Patriots have squeezed into the playoffs many times due to their awful division and now they continue to benefit from it. But besides all that, the Steelers are already out of the picture as far as the playoff goes to the all-knowing sports experts since they are already talking about the Indy-New England rematch for the AFC Title. Well, all I can say is that Nobody, except for Steelers fans, thought that Pittsburgh would make it as the sixth seed to Super Bowl XL, and so I'm content with letting Pittsburgh fly under the radar again but boy will I be doing the biggest "I told you so" dance when they do make it to the Super Bowl... or at least when they beat the Patriots in Week 14.
Obviously this is a game Pittsburgh could lose, but it's also a game they could win and I'll tell you why. First of all, let's compare and contrast the Steelers to the Colts since they are the only team that has come close to beating the Patriots. Granted the Colts have a better offense than the Steelers when completely healthy, but their offense was minus Marvin Harrison and that brings their offense down a notch and considering that we've put up 222 points this year, I think it puts us close to the level of the Colts offensively (at least when they played New England). And our offense is more balanced then it has ever been. When Willie can't run, Ben puts up the TDs. Ben is second in the league with TDs (behind Brady) with 20 TDs and has three games in which he's scored 4 TDs. And when Willie can run, you know the boy can run! We're playing smart football with only 6 interceptions this year and have been clicking well offensively. So in the context of the Colts game against the Patriots this past week, let's call it close to even, you can even give the edge to the Colts just because of Peyton, though Ben's actually having a better year than Peyton.
Now here's where we can beat the Patriots, our Defense. Our Defense has been on fire this year and is unequivocally better than the Colts' D. Historically Brady doesn't play as well against 3-4 defenses. Why? Because he's a pocket passer. Yeah yeah, him and Peyton are the best QBs in the league, but only in the pocket. I'm not saying that they Never make plays outside of the pocket, but rarely and even when they do often it's by design and not forced (for example a Sprint Right play call). Brady can move vertically in the pocket, but not horizontally well and this is where Blitzburgh comes in. Playing the Ravens our Blitz got to McNair multiple times and resulted in four sacs and a couple fumbles. This was a healthy O-Line that is supposed to be one of the better Lines in the league. The Patriots' O-Line is top notch, no doubt, but we can get to Brady. And if we get to Brady he will throw interceptions, I can guarantee that. Our Run D's pretty good too - 4th in the league for rushing yards allowed.
Now let's talk about the guy I consider the best QB in the league outside of the pocket. Big Ben's escape abilities are become mythic and historically incredible. But even more incredible is his accuracy outside of the pocket. This is not a new thing with him. Ben had a better passer rating outside of the pocket than in it his rookie year and I think one of his problems last year was that due to his multiple injuries and health issues he was a lot more tentative to roll out of the pocket and scramble around. But now Ben Is Back. I will say that the Brady-Moss connection is far superior than anything we could offer, but our running game is stronger and our D matches up well against Brady and his offense. I will definitely give the edge to the Patriots on special teams, though Sepulveda has been a great punter for us this year, our returns and return coverage are average at best.
A couple of Steelers stats I pulled from Dave's Football Blog who in turn pulled them from MJD:
• 2nd in the league in rushing yards per game (behind only Minnesota, who received a sizable boost this weekend, courtesy of the San Diego Chargers)
• 1st in time of possession per game
• 1st in 3rd down conversion percentage
• 1st in the league in passing yards per game allowed
• 4th in rushing yards per game allowed
• T-2nd in the NFL in sacks
• 4th in the NFL in opposing QB passer rating
I won't say that it's a lock that we'll win this game because the Patriots are tough and have always been a tough competition for us, but I will say that we can definitely win this game and I personally believe we will.
Too bad we have to wait until Week 14 to find out!
Actually I'm more worried about the Jags game we have right after the Patriots because of how we match up against them...
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