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Steelers Vs Panthers Prediction

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 today’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

My prediction is at the bottom.

THE STEELERS WILL WIN IF…

1. The D-Line Steps Up

Simple and to the point. This defensive line must play better than they have the last two weeks. Carolina isn’t the most efficient or big-play rushing attack but they’re among the league’s most-committed with big running backs and routinely employing more than five offensive linemen. Cam Heyward remains the team’s anchor but Larry Ogunjobi is slowing to the finish line, injuries may be hindering him, while young guys like Isaiahh Loudermilk, DeMarvin Leal, and potentially Jonathan Marshall must step up. In the middle, can the team get anything from Tyson Alualu or Montravius Adams? It’s been rough there, too.

2. Canada Floods The Zone

Panthers are a zone-heavy team, especially on early downs. The best way to attack their usual single-high/Cover 3 looks are to flood zone coverages with multiple routes. That can come in a variety of ways but a three-level sail concept, a flat/corner/go route is one way to effectively do that and give the QB an easy triangle and half-field read. Good scheme can exploit this Panthers’ defense.

3. Trubisky Plays It Smart In The Red Zone

Another no-brainer. Three turnovers killed the Steelers last week especially the two as Pittsburgh was in scoring territory. Can’t happen this week. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the margin for error other more prolific offenses do. I’ll repeat the stat one more time before kickoff. Pittsburgh’s 5-1 when they don’t turn the ball over this year. They’re 0-7 when they do. The few red zone trips they get must come away with at least three points.

The Steelers Will Lose If…

1. Panthers Playaction Produces Chunks

Outside of WR DJ Moore, the Panthers don’t have any consistent targets in the passing game. It’s a bunch of players most fans aren’t familiar with: Terrance Marshall, Ian Thomas, Laviska Shenault. The way their passing game works is through concepts. Scheming guys open. Much of that is their playaction game built off their run-heavy approach. They most often boot to the field and work a low-high read and trust Sam Darnold to make the right decision from there. Their passes look like runs and Pittsburgh can’t bite and allow a big play behind them.

2. Carolina D-Line Plays Tip Drill

While the Panthers’ defense is far from elite, their d-line does a great job getting hands in throwing lanes. They’ve batted 13 passes this season led by DT Derrick Brown’s six. That alone is nearly as many as the Steelers’ whole d-line has had this season. They’re a fundamental group with big and long people like Marquis Haynes with 33 1/4 inch arms off the edge. A tipped pass leads to an interception that could lead to a game-changing moment.

3. Punter Johnny Hekker Turns The Tide

Battle of field position is often important when you have two 5-8 teams battling it out. It’s a battle Pittsburgh easily lost last week to the Ravens and one they can’t lose again. But the Panthers have an impressive punter in Hekker, having a career leg by averaging nearly 49 yards per punt this season.

Beyond that, I’m always concerned about the presence of potential fakes with him. He’s yet to throw a pass this season but has an incredible 23 pass attempts since entering the league. Carolina might reach into their bag of tricks in this one. Pittsburgh may have plenty of “safe” returns to make sure they aren’t fooled.

Prediction

Steelers: 23
Panthers: 16

Season Prediction Record

7-6

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