The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Miami Dolphins Sunday at Heinz Field and below are seven things to watch for in the game.
No Pony Tricks – Mike Wallace makes his long-awaited return to Pittsburgh on Sunday and he’d love nothing more than to add his name to the long last of wide receivers that have registered a double explosive play against the Steelers defense this season. Wallace’s deep ball production is down this season, but that means absolutely nothing heading into this game. The Steelers defense must have better play out of their safeties in this game and the cornerback Ike Taylor, who will likely spend most of his day on Wallace, must keep the speedy receiver in front of him.
Ride The Bell Cow – The Steelers currently own the longest game streak in the league without a 100 yard rusher, but they will go against a Dolphins defense on Sunday that hasn’t been great against the run this season. Miami has allowed an average of 121.8 rushing yards a game so far and 4.2 yards per carry. Bell appears to be recovered from the concussion that he suffered Thanksgiving night and should he not be able to help the Steelers offense rush for 100 yards or more in this game, it will be very disappointing and could result in a loss.
Babysit Adams - With Kelvin Beachum sidelined by a knee injury, Mike Adams will make his first start at left tackle since being benched following the Week 4 loss in London. Adams will be going against Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon, who has been on fire rushing the passer as of late. The Steelers must give Adams help with Vernon and that help will most likely come from tight end Matt Spaeth, who was activated from the designated to return injured reserve list on Saturday. When Spaeth is not in the game as a second tight end, Adams will on occasion need help from a chipping running back. Plain and simple, they can’t allow Adams to go toe to toe with Vernon very often.
Lay The Wood & Worilds On Claybo – Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo is the Miami version of Adams as he has already allowed 10 sacks, 9 hits and 26 hurries coming into this game. LaMarr Woodley will see his first action Sunday since suffering a calf injury way back in Week 10 and the early word is that he will have his snaps closely monitored. That should result in Jason Worilds getting some action on the left side at some point during the game even though he is scheduled to start on the right side. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill comes into this game as the most sacked in the league and it will be very disappointing if the Steelers defense doesn’t add at least three more to his total on Sunday.
Wheeler Routes – Not only has Dolphins weak outside linebacker Philip Wheeler been bad against the run this season, he’s also been a liability in pass coverage. That means the Steelers need to get him singled up on either Bell, Heath Miller or Will Johnson as many times possible in this game. Wheeler has allowed a 74% completion ratio when thrown at and nearly 10 yards per reception.
Get Off The Damn Field – The Steelers defense has been very inconsistent this season at being able to get off the field on third downs and their inability to accomplish that Thanksgiving night against the Baltimore Ravens was one of the main reasons why they lost the game. The Dolphins have been bad this season on third downs of five or more yards to go as Tannehill has converted just 22 of them with passes on 97 dropbacks (22.7%).
Break The Fins Turnover & Sack Streak – The Dolphins defense has recorded at least one turnover in every game this season and at least one interception in all but one game. They currently have an eight game interception streak going and have recorded at least two or more sacks in nine straight games.