Back at it on gameday, breaking down what the Pittsburgh Steelers have to do to win (or lose) in today’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. My always unreliable prediction at the bottom.
The Steelers Will Win If…
1. They control the Vikings’ defensive line. I wanted to be more specific but that whole group is so good. Have to slow down the Vikings’ends in the pass game, big NT Linval Joseph inside. Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of screens and quick-game throws to get their ends to hesitate and think. Know most of you won’t like it. Just expect it.
2. Minnesota is forced to keep everything in front on offense. The Vikings do a really good job using spacing concepts to go vertical. They’re going to take shots and have the receivers who can make tough, combative catches. Pittsburgh wants to be more aggressive and take more chances but the obvious consequence to that is giving up the deep ball. That could’ve happened several times against the Browns.
Perhaps a more conservative, “traditional” (Cover 3) concept would serve Keith Butler well for this week.
3. The pass rushers do their job. And I’m not even talking about just T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and Anthony Chickillo. The Vikings’ tackles are vulnerable but I wasn’t thrilled with their interior either. Guys like LG Nick Easton can be beat. The Steelers had success last week because they didn’t feel compelled to blitz and generally speaking, didn’t do much of it. That’s gotta continue.
The Steelers Will Lose If…
1. They kick their own butt. It’s obvious. In most cases, the Steelers blow games when they hurt themselves. 13 penalties and poor third down play (one feeds the other) are all examples of that in last week’s squeaker of a win. The Vikings will leave far less margin for error.
2. Stefon Diggs gets loose on third down. Go-to guy, their best weapon, and it isn’t all done vertically. Like to use motion to clue man vs zone and like I wrote above, use bunch/spacing concepts to get him open. Will run shallow crossers and mesh concepts to get Diggs on the move in space. Can the Steelers match up? Joe Haden, when he’s facing him, will have his hands full.
3. They can’t pick on Trae Waynes. That’s the guy in the Vikings’ secondary I want to go after. I’m assuming Xavier Rhodes will shadow Antonio Brown, leaving Martavis Bryant on Waynes. Waynes has struggled since being a top draft pick and Bryant shook off some of the rust last week. Needs to show more consistent detail and football IQ as a route runner. He’s the key to ripping off some big plays.
This one is tough. Had Sam Bradford been fully healthy and we knew he was playing, I honestly would’ve taken the Vikings. That said…
Season Record: 1-0