The Pittsburgh Steelers are back home looking to right the ship after suffering their worst statistical loss in decades at the hands of the Eagles, and they are hoping to do so against Andy Reid’s Chiefs, whose offense served as the template for the one that just easily put up 34 points against them.
Oh, and the offense only put up three points as well. So that’s not good. But they certainly can do better, and they pretty much have to, considering where they are coming from. Getting back All-Pro running back and wishes-he-was-a-wide-receiver Le’Veon Bell is going to play a big part in the Steelers coming out on top today—if indeed they do.
The bounce-back on offense, however, starts under center, with Ben Roethlisberger needing to make better decisions and throw the ball with more accuracy. His wide receivers didn’t always help him out—even the 50/50 balls that don’t go down as drops were ones that escaped them, including Antonio Brown—but he has yet to play to his full capacity this season.
Brown, of course, got his touches last week, and produced his statistics, but Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates need to step up. Coates has done his part in producing splash plays—four receptions of 40 or more yards over the first three games—but Wheaton, obviously, needs to forget about what happened last week and start over.
The Steelers could not get the ground game going at all—they only had one or two successful carries before abandoning it by the end of the first half—so Bell’s return must come as both a runner and a receiver, even if the Chiefs’ front seven is stout up the middle.
Of course, the starting debut of B.J. Finney at left guard is going to play its role as well. Can he get push in the run game and fend off linebacker Derrick Johnson? Can he limit the pressure up the middle against the likes of Dontari Poe?
Defensively, the immediate narrative is obvious, and that is this: how are the injury replacements, and the players shifting to different positions due to the injuries, going to hold up? With Ryan Shazier out, Vince Williams will take his place, and may rotate out some. Jordan Dangerfield is going to see his first time on defense ever in the regular season in place of Robert Golden, out with a hamstring injury. And they will be contending with some very skilled pass catchers at running back and tight end.
With rookie Sean Davis banged up, it is unclear how many snaps he will get, but the injuries will likely result in extended playing time for Artie Burns, who has struggled with his tackling, and possibly the first playing time in Pittsburgh for Justin Gilbert.
Except the pass rush to struggle once again against an offense that likes to get rid of the ball quickly. Maybe the Steelers focus more on pressure up the middle and interior blitzes in order to try to get home faster.