Below are seven matchups or things to look for on Sunday as the Steelers travel to Chicago to face the Bears.
Carter/Mundy vs Bears Receivers – Every Steeler fan in the free world knows that safety Troy Polamalu is out for a while. Enter Tyrone Carter and Ryan Mundy. Carter will get the start with Ryan Mundy getting some dime package work. If it takes 2 people to fill the shoes of Polamalu, so be it. The Bears will try to exploit the safety play for sure. Carter needs to play like he knows how to and within his game. Polamalu is very instinctive and very explosive, Carter just needs to be Carter.
Ward, Holmes & McDonald – Sounds like a Pittsburgh law firm. Holmes and Ward just need to do what they do, McDonald is the one that could make the bigger impact in the game. He has played the Bears a few times and is very instinctive. Do not be surprised to see him sit in the soft zone all day as a Ben Roethlisberger safety blanket. No, I did not forget about Mike Wallace, but I see McDonald being able to loosen up the Bears defense to free up some over the top looks to Holmes or Wallace.
Trickeration Gadgetry – You know Bruce Arians has a few school yard plays he is itching to try. If the Steelers jump on top quick, I would look for Arians to reach into the bag of tricks a few times. Who knows, maybe even Stefan Logan will be involved. Highly unlikely, but once would not hurt and if successful, it would force future opponents to have to prepare for it. Can Hines Ward throw 50 yards to Wallace? Makes you wonder.
Matt Forte vs Steelers Linebackers – Whoever has the job tracking Bears running back Matt Forte, has to be on top of things. Forte is similar to the Titans Chris Johnson, who the Steelers managed to contain in week 1. Keep Forte under 80 yards rushing and 30 yards receiving and all should be well. If Forte finds holes, the linebackers must be there for short gains.
Robo Punter vs Hesterzilla – Lets hope it sounds like a B movie after the game. Punter Daniel Sepulveda must directional kick and have great hang time so one of the best return men in the game does not kill the Steelers. Out-kicking the coverage in this game could be deadly. I would settle for Mitch Berger type punt averages as long as Devin Hester has a modest return day.
1.6 – That is the yards per carry thus far for the Steelers running game. Take out the 3 yard scramble by Big Ben and it is down to 1.5. Anything below 3.0 in this game spells a serious problem going forward, win or lose. 3.0 is even unacceptable, but at this point looks like a lofty goal. Willie Parker and/or Rashard Mendenhall need to get the running game going.
Blitzburgh – Master Dick LeBeau will be put to the test this week. Look for all types of blitzes this week to both disguise coverages and to put the onus on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. If the Bears win, it will be because the offensive line of the Bears and Cutler had great games. LeBeau is the best in the business, if anyone can hide holes in a defense it is him.