As we’ve done in the past, the keys to the Pittsburgh Steelers winning (or losing) this week’s game. Three things that need to happen for them to end up on the right side of the score and vice versa for today’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
My prediction is at the bottom.
The Steelers Will Win If…
1. Their Disciplined In Their Run Fits
Gotta be gap sound to defend the Cardinals and all the options and conflicts they create. Cardinals don’t bank on winning with superior talent, though Kyler Murray is a threat and Kenyan Drake has solidified the run game. They bank on scheme to create one-on-one situations, or better yet, nothing but green grass, and putting defenders in lose/lose situations. Front seven, front eight really, Terrell Edmunds needs to be in the box plenty, have to just do their job. Not try to do too much, make every tackle. Trust the dude next to you. And have to tackle well, of course, as we highlighted yesterday.
2. Pass Game Produces More Big Plays
No defense has allowed more 20+ yard completions, 60 of them, than the Arizona Cardinals. Devlin Hodges’ presence has opened up the offense and allowed it to get vertical more often and that has to continue. Doesn’t have to be a trio of 30+ yard receptions last week. Maybe this is the week to win in the middle of the field, between 20-25 yards, against the Cardinals’ weak middle.
3. Tight Ends Get Involved
To bounce off that last point, no defense is as bad as defending tight ends as the Arizona Cardinals. Consider this crazy stat. In six of their last seven games, Zona has given up a touchdown to a tight end. The only exception is a few weeks ago versus the Saints, who were working without Jared Cook. Last week, the Rams’ Tyler Higbee burned them for over 100 yards and a score. If there was ever a week for Vance McDonald to shine, this is it. He’s only hit the 40 yard mark once this season thanks to a garbage time Week 1 output.
The Steelers Will Lose If…
1. Chandler Jones And/Or Terrell Suggs Take Over (And Take The Ball Away)
Arizona’s best chance of defense comes through those two guys. Suggs has been quiet over the last month, just a half-sack over that span, but he and Jones are focused on ripping the football away. Jones has 5 FFs, Suggs with four. And I don’t care about Suggs’ lack of recent production and age. It’s Steelers vs Suggs and the dude always turns up. Hodges has to protect the ball at all costs. Turnovers is how you lose to a 3-8 team.
2. Steelers’ Defense Doesn’t Defend The Bunch
Cardinals love using 3×1 bunch sets on third down. Like to use Larry Fitzgerald with the point man to create space for their smaller, underneath receivers. Not easy to deal with because defenses can’t press and will allow separation off the line. Have to be able to identify route concepts, communicate and pass things off, and bring a variety of calls, here’s an example of a 4 over 3 “box call,” to slow down their passing game.
3. Keith Butler Doesn’t Have An Answer To 10 Personnel
And I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I’m confident he will. If for nothing else, a healthy, talented secondary that’s had time to work and gel together. Makes problem-solving a whole lot easier with those things on your side. No one uses 10 personnel, four receivers, as often as the Cardinals, bringing that flair of the college game to the pros. It’ll be interesting to see how Butler responds. I imagine a healthy amount of dime with Cam Sutton on the field is in order.
Season Prediction Record