The Pittsburgh Steelers are bringing their 4-1 record and several local boys down south the Miami in order to face the Dolphins, against whom they are looking to stretch their current win streak to three games, and set themselves up, at worst, a 5-2 record and a share of the division lead heading into their Week Eight Bye.
In order to reach that destination, however they must first make it out of Florida with another notch on their victory belt, and though the Dolphins have floundered this season, every victory among the professional ranks is hard work, even if the scoreboard may not always indicate it.
One advantage that they do have in their corner is the fact that, even with a reserve in their ranks, the Steelers have without a doubt the better of the two offensive lines that will take the field today. The Dolphins have already allowed 17 sacks on the year, and have been a contributing factor in Ryan Tannehill’s seven interceptions, while their running game has been pedestrian, without an explosive play on the ground to speak of.
Among their wide receivers, only two are even in double-digit receptions, with Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry obviously front and center with his 34 receptions and 403 receiving yards. Kenny Stills is a home run threat, however, averaging 22.8 yards per reception on nine catches with two touchdowns to lead the team.
One aspect that the Dolphins’ passing game has had this year has been the explosive play, as they have five different players who have recorded a reception of at least 40 yards, though of course not all of them have come on deep targets. As I wrote about yesterday, the Steelers have been successful in limiting explosive plays on deep targets this year, and that will have to continue today.
The Steelers will absolutely want to get the ground game going with Le’Veon Bell against the Dolphins’ front seven, as they have been allowing 150 yards against the run per game through the first five weeks. They had a hard time establishing the run a week ago, and the line is no doubt salivating about the prospect of getting that back on track.
It would only make all the more sense considering that the receiving corps is dealing once again with the absence of Markus Wheaton with a nagging shoulder injury, but Sammie Coates is also now ailing, having suffered a finger fracture, and stitches are producing swelling in his hand. He is expected to play, but will probably be limited.
Defensively, area native Anthony Chickillo is supposed to be making his first career start. He is coming off a game in which he recorded his first career sack and forced fumble and had a career-high three tackles.
Also watch for a healthy secondary with Robert Golden back and Artie Burns making his debut as the designated nickel defender, and keep an eye out for Justin Gilbert in a four-corner look that they have used the past two weeks.