New series we’ll do each Sunday morning before kickoff. A prediction of what will happen if the Pittsburgh Steelers win, if they lose, and my final score prediction. My outlook on this afternoon’s game against the New York Giants.
The Steelers Will Win If…
– The tight ends block. That’s why Jesse James was our X Factor for this contest. But they’ll need contributions from David Johnson and tackle eligible Chris Hubbard, who could have a sneaky impact in this one too, to control the Giants’ top two defensive ends.
– Todd Haley doesn’t roll out the Ravens’ gameplan. I actually didn’t think it wasn’t a awful gameplan, Ben Roethlisberger was just horrendous, but there certainly was an element of running the ball too much against a stout front. Now that Roethlisberger is healthy, that’s the apparent reason why they were so conservative, Haley hopefully won’t pound his head against the wall time and time again. If he does, it spells trouble for Pittsburgh.
– The Giants don’t get much cooking on first down. They want to be an up-tempo, move-the-ball offense. Stop them on first down, slow down the offense before it gets going, and it’ll take them out of their identity, their rhythm. This is really crucial. And where, as Mike Tomlin pointed out, where Steelers’ Nation can have a tangible affect.
The Steelers Will Lose If…
– They give up the big play. Pretty obvious, right? Still, needs to be stopped and a problem area they’ve had all season. The Giants are top five in 40+ yard completions and while the Steelers are middle-of-the-pack, when they give them up, they come in bunches. And losses.
– Special teams’ breakdowns. I’m really worried about this area. No Chris Boswell. Shamarko Thomas returns but Darrius Heyward-Bey remains out. The punt protection team was awful against the Indianapolis Colts and the Giants are letting Odell Beckham Jr. return punts. It all makes me queasy.
– The Giants’ secondary makes plays. And they’re a good group, too. They don’t play as much man coverage as say, the Cincinnati Bengals, but all their corners have ball skills. Janoris Jenkins. Eli Apple. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Landon Collins leads the charge from his safety spot. Could create problems for Ben Roethlisberger.