Nov 17, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates after making a touchdown catch against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at LP Field. The Steelers beat the Titans 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
I recently interviewed Kim Myers, a co-editor of Nice Pick Cowher, which is a great source to find all things related to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve partnered with her to exchange questions around this Sunday’s matchup. Arguably, both of these teams need a win, but one might say the Steelers need it more.
1. The Steelers have got their best from Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell this season, has offensive coordinator Todd Haley made that large of an impact? Or, is it more about the abilities of the talent on offense?
When the Steelers have been at their best offensively this season it’s because of a perfect storm of great play calling and execution on the field. Todd Haley is a volatile figure in Pittsburgh but there’s no denying that he can dial-up some plays, that when executed perfectly, are pure gold. It also doesn’t hurt that Antonio Brown is having a monster season in spite of the double coverage he constantly draws and Le’Veon Bell is transforming into a premier NFL running back right before our eyes. Also, having Ben Roethlisberger protected well by the offensive line has been key to the offensive success so far this season.
2. Who are some lesser known players Saints fans should be looking for on Sunday when these two play? What impact can they make in this respective matchup?
On offense the Steelers have gotten great contributions from rookie WR Martavis Bryant as well as second-year WR Markus Wheaton. There’s no telling what can be expected in the backfield behind Le’Veon Bell after the departure of LeGarrette Blount last week so if Dri Archer and Josh Harris make positive contributions, it will be a surprise to everyone, including Steelers fans.
On defense, the Steelers are getting healthy at the perfect time thanks to the late bye week. Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor should be returning, who are not unknown players, but second-year safety Shamarko Thomas should be returning to action as well. Steelers fans have just been waiting for him to emerge as the next great safety. On the defensive line we’re looking to see more contributions from rookies Stephon Tuitt and Daniel McCullers to solidify that line and allow the linebackers to get after Brees.
3. Both the Steelers and Saints sport negative turnover differentials, and it’s largely due to the defense’s inability to take the ball away. Dick Lebeau is one of the best masterminds to ever coach and play defense, how does he contain Drew Brees? What do the Steelers absolutely have to do to win this game?
The turnover differential could largely be due to that awful performance in the Jets game where they turned it over four times and didn’t grab one themselves. The Steelers defense has actually surprised me so far this season grabbing interceptions and snatching up fumbles where it’s been a few seasons of those missing from our defense. Clearly winning the turnover battle will be a major key to victory for the Steelers. An absolute must will be getting after Brees and forcing him to make mistakes.
4. The Steelers are sitting on the outside looking in for the playoffs right now. With the AFC North playing so well, what teams do you think will be destined for the postseason, and who will ultimately win this division?
I’d like to believe that the Steelers can make the ultimate push to win the division. They still have yet to face Cincinnati so that series can likely determine who wins the division. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see three teams out of the AFC North make the playoffs this year.
5. Arguably, you can look at this as a classic example of a ‘trap game’ for the Steelers. They witnessed that against the Buccaneers not so long ago, does lightning strike twice with the Saints coming to town? Give us your final score prediction.
I’m not sure if this counts as a ‘trap game’ because of what’s at stake for the Saints. Sure they have a losing record, but they’re still in the playoff hunt with a lot on the line. They’re going to be giving everything they have to stay in that division race and I hope the Steelers are expecting that. I’d say it will be a close game but I think Ben Roethlisberger can pick apart the Saints defense and eventually pull away. I’ll go 35-17.
Be sure to keep up with Nice Pick Cowher for all things related to the Pittsburgh Steelers! Huge shout out to Kim for your time! Enjoy the game Sunday!