The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off of their first win of the year, which also means they are making their first attempt at stacking wins in 2018. They will have to take down their biggest rival in the Baltimore Ravens in order to accomplish this, which will not be easy, so here is what to watch for during tonight’s game.
The focus, in my opinion, will be on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and whether or not he can keep the Steelers’ offense ahead of the opponents’ offense. That certainly seems to what is shaping up to be the theme of the season, as it’s already become expected that the defense is going to struggle to keep points off the board.
Roethlisberger is coming off the most prolific start of his career, one of just seven quarterbacks ever to open a season with over 1100 passing yards over three games. He has thrown six touchdowns to one interception over the past two games.
But the offense went mysteriously quiet in the second half of the Tampa Bay game, almost spoiling the result. Can they keep it going through the third and fourth quarters this time around?
And can the running game help in that task? With the return of David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert, perhaps James Conner will find more inviting gaps to run through than he has for the past two games. But Brandon Williams, Michael Pierce, and C.J. Mosley will not be very hospitable, even if it’s not in their home.
The difference-maker could surprisingly end up being Antonio Brown. Usually the central focus of the offense, he hasn’t been able to contribute as he has over the past five years, in large part because Roethlisberger has struggled to connect with him.
The secondary is the other major storyline in this game, and it will continue to be so until they prove that they can actually stop somebody. With the likes of Coty Sensabaugh and Cameron Sutton figuring to be a key piece of that machinery tonight, many are not hopeful.
One thing that people are looking forward to, however, is seeing whether or not Matthew Thomas gets on the field, which is what has been suggested by this past week of practice. If he plays, and plays well, it could be the beginning of a regular feature in the defense.
Containing Alex Collins and preserving depth integrity on vertical routes by the tight ends and John Brown, I believe, will be the defensive keys to the game. The inside linebackers are going to have to show their range in both areas, while Sean Davis will be stressed at the back end to keep a lid on everything, something he’s struggled to do in the past two weeks.