The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Is the Giants game the biggest hurdle left on the schedule?
The Pittsburgh Steelers are more than two thirds of the way through their schedule, and they came out of it just ahead with a 6-5 record. They are now in the home stretch with five games left to play. Three of them are against divisional opponents—one game remaining against each. Only one of the five games is against a team that is more than one game over .500.
And that would be the New York Giants, who after beating the Browns yesterday and furthering their misery is now sitting at 8-3 on the season and riding a six-game winning streak, the first time they have won that many games in a row since 2008.
At least by record, they are the most challenging opponent left on the schedule, so is this the team’s biggest hurdle remaining—to be more specific, is this going to be the hardest game left on the schedule to win?
One advantage is that the game is going to be at home, but they have already lost to some strong teams at home, and they have just won two games on the road. The Giants showed a strong pass rush yesterday as well—but then, the Steelers dominated that Browns line even more.
But what the Giants do have is a stout defensive line and a strong run defense. Their linebackers may be middling at best, but they have talent in the secondary that can limit the Steelers’ already limited receivers. Frankly, New York’s wide receivers will have an easier time against Pittsburgh’s secondary.
I think the middle of the field is going to be critical in this game, because the run game is not going to hum as it has in the past two weeks, and the perimeter is going to be hard to get to. The tight ends and Le’Veon Bell are going to have to take advantage of linebacker coverage to win key reps.
In case you’re wondering, the Ravens finish their season in Cincinnati, but before then, they host Miami next week, then have to go to Foxboro before coming home to host the Eagles, all of which lead up to a pivotal Christmas Day showdown with you know who.