New series we’ll do each Sunday morning before kickoff. A prediction of what will happen if the Pittsburgh Steelers win, if they lose, and my final score prediction. My outlook on this afternoon’s game against the New York Jets.
The Steelers Will Win If…
– The defensive line rallies around Cam Heyward’s absence. The numbers make the Miami Dolphins’ line look terrible but as we’ve said, they are healthier this year and totally different than the group trotted out a week ago. Ricardo Mathews and Javon Hargrave will see a lot of rookie left guard Laremy Tunsil. That’s a key matchup to watch. If they can stop the run, get some pressure, and have Ryan Tannehill uncomfortable throughout, the Dolphins’ offense will go into a shell.
– Jakeem Grant is limited. The rookie return man made a splash play last week that allowed Miami to hang around and compensate for a lack of offense. Can’t let that happen this week. If I’m Danny Smith, I am asking Chris Boswell to boot every kickoff out of the end zone and Jordan Berry’s punt placement will be critical, especially if storms do roll in like expected.
The offense will have a lot to do with the latter. Even if they can’t end drives with points, if they can move the ball and get some pin-deep opportunities, Miami usually swaps out Grant for Jarvis Landry, who is still a threat, but dramatically less so.
– A potent, consistent run game gasses Miami’s DL. It’s their best group but like last week against the Titans, was lifeless after getting run over for chunk play after chunk play. It made Marcus Mariota look elite, tossing three touchdowns and a healthy completion percentage. Le’Veon Bell should have a ton of success as a runner.
The Steelers Will Lose If…
– Miami gets some chunk plays. That is one thing they do will and a guy like Kenny Stills is going to stress defense’s vertically. Tannehill is not leading multiple 12 play drives. But anyone can hit a 70 yard strike. Secondary can’t let it happen.
– Pittsburgh’s offensive line has trouble creating a pocket. Talking about interior pressure here from the Dolphins’ two uglies up front. Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, and David DeCastro have to keep things clean for Ben Roethlisberger.
– The Dolphins’ defense mirrors what Cincinnati does. Their defensive coordinator is Vance Joseph, who spent years with the Bengals, and Roethlisberger has acknowledged Miami does a lot of similar things to Cincinnati. The Bengals have always had more talented secondaries but schematically, maybe the Dolphins are able to confuse Ben a bit. Or the offensive line because Joseph is sure to send numerous blitzes.
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