The Pittsburgh Steelers are playing their final game of the regular season a Heinz Field next week. If they win, they will guarantee that they will have at least one more home game before the 2020 season is over. If they lose, then they will have to score a win in Cleveland in order to make that happen.
Neither this game nor the next will be easy, and in fact they may well end up being the betting underdogs in both games. Coming off of a three-game losing streak, they are a home underdog against a team with a worse record than they have, the Indianapolis Colts, who are now just a game back from them at 10-4.
They are riding a three-game winning streak now, which includes a pair of wins over the Houston Texans, as well as a road victory against the Las Vegas Raiders. They also split games with the Tennessee Titans and beat the Green Bay Packers, so this is a pretty battle-tested team.
And they’re not taking the Steelers lightly, despite their recent struggles. Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni in particular acknowledged that they will have their hands full. “This is a good defense – really good defense, really good defense”, he told reporters yesterday.
“They are really good up front. I have a ton of respect for this defense. It’s crazy, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a good defense – it does feel like Baltimore”, he said, one of the team’s few losses this season. “They always have a good defense and it’s something they pride themselves on. They have great guys up front. (T.J.) Watt is a great player, (Cameron) Heyward is a great player. I don’t want to leave anybody out because they have a great front seven. Then they have good players at every level. (Joe) Haden has been good for a long time, (Minkah) Fitzpatrick is a really good safety, a really good safety. I just think that they have players at each level”.
As they did last year, the Steelers sent at least one player from every level of the defense to the Pro Bowl in 2020. Despite the doomsaying, they still rank second in the NFL in scoring defense, second in passing yards, and first or second in takeaways and sacks.
“We’re going to have to be on it, that’s for sure. We’re going to have to play our best football game and that starts with our week of preparation and how we’re going to prepare for this team”, Sirianni said. “It’s the players and coaches. We’re just going to have to be on it because it’s going to take our best effort to accomplish our goals against a really good tea”.
Now if only the Steelers come out on Sunday and play up to this level of honorifics. Granted, the offense has been a far bigger problem lately, but the defense is not without blame, either, by any means.