As we’ve done in the past, the keys to the Pittsburgh Steelers winning (or losing) today’s game. Three things that need to happen for them to end up on the right side of the score and vice versa in this 2020 Week 8 contest between the Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.
My prediction is at the bottom.
The Steelers Will Win If…
1. Their Paper Matchup Translates To The Field
There’s no good reason why the Steelers should be in a close game, much less lose it. That doesn’t always translate onto the field, Steelers’ fans know what it feels like to be letdown (or win but have five years erased off your life thanks to a hold-onto-your-butts 4th quarter). But the Steelers have the better, healthier roster in almost every single area. Dallas is one of the worst teams in football and on paper, Pittsburgh should prove it.
2. The OLBs Dominate
Maybe the most pronounced area where the Steelers have the advantage (besides QBs, of course). Bud Dupree is facing journeymen Cameron Erving. TJ Watt is facing UDFA rookie Terence Steele. I don’t know if I need to say more. If these two don’t combine for two or three sacks alone, they had a bad game. They should cause a lot of problems not only for the Cowboys’ line but QB Garrett Gilbert.
3. Special Teams Greets Dallas’ New Punter
Throwing a curveball with this one. Can’t forget about special teams. Dallas is hurting everywhere, even at punter. They lost vet Chris Jones due to a core muscle injury. That leaves Hunter Niswander to make his debut later today. Let’s have Danny Smith bring the heat on this guy a little bit. He’s been a little “safer” in the punt game this year, less aggressive with the rush. Some of that probably has to do with focus on setting up the return given Diontae Johnson and Ray-Ray McCloud’s success but I want to get after Niswander a bit. Make him sweat. Maybe he fumbles a snap or is a little slow from snap to punt and you can get home and make a big play.
The Steelers Will Lose If…
1. There’s Another Case Of Steelers Beating Steelers
An issue this team has had, even in their victories this season. The Tennessee game a prime example of that. Turnovers, penalties, things that stall out drives, give the opposition an extra possession, failure to control the clock and wear down the defense. All the mental mistakes you wan to avoid. Play a clean game and you’re almost guaranteed victory.
2. Dallas’ Top Receivers Make Top Receiver Plays
As much as the Cowboys’ offense is hurting, they have some talent at WR. A terrific trio of Amari Cooper, rookie CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup. All three of those guys can kill you. So coverage has to hold up, miscommunication has to stop, and they can’t get beat deep. Don’t let one of them chunk you for a 60+ yard TD.
3. Demarcus Lawrence Has A Big Day
One guy on defense to worry about? #90 DE, Demarcus Lawrence. Arguably their best defender and he’ll see a lot of Chukwuma Okorafor. Okorafor has filled in well at RT but hasn’t been quite as good as maybe some think. He’s had his issues one on one in pass pro, a soft shoulder and allowing inside pressure too often. Don’t want Lawrence to make big plays on 3rd down.
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