What a great weekend of football. The undefeated Minnesota Vikings come to Heinz Field for one of their real tests this season. Last week the Vikings needed a missed Ravens field goal to escape with a win, that was at home, this is in the heart of Steeler Country.
Pittsburgh 27, Cleveland 14
Passing: Roethlisberger: 23/35, 417 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 17 car, 62 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Ward: 8 rec, 159 yards, 1 TD
Minnesota 33, Baltimore 31
Passing: Favre: 21/29, 278 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Peterson: 22 carries 143 yards
Receiving: Rice: 6 rec, 176 yards
Offense (rank in NFL)
Pittsburgh: 403.7 yards/game (5th)
Minnesota: 348.2 yards/game (13th)
Pittsburgh: 296.7 yards/game (2nd)
Minnesota: 223.2 yards/game (17th)
Pittsburgh: 107 yards/game (15th)
Minnesota: 125 yards/game (9th)
Pittsburgh: 23.3 points/game (14th)
Minnesota: 31.5 points/game (2nd)
Pittsburgh: 275.2 yards/game (3rd)
Minnesota: 341.8 yards/game (18th)
Pittsburgh: 74.5 yards/game (2nd)
Minnesota: 93.5 yards/game (9th)
Pittsburgh: 200.7 yards/game (12th)
Minnesota: 248.3 yards/game (24th)
Pittsburgh: 18.7 points/game (t-14th)
Minnesota: 20.2 points/game (18th)
First we take a look at our Pittsburgh Steelers:
Lets just face the facts. We are a passing team. Big Ben is one of the best QB's in the league and for good reason. This team rusn through him. He calls most of the shots and he knows this offense better than BA does. He is second in the league in completion percentage, first in the league in passing, seventh in passer rating and quite frankly willing this team to victory. I see these random MVP voting things on ESPN and they have Ben around 7th, they must be high. This dude just does one thing, win. This will be a huge game for Ben. Minnesota can be thrown on as we saw last week with Baltimore so Ben, along with his receivers, should have some success.
That being said Mike Wallace is going to be a huge factor in this game. Maybe not for the catches or for the yardage but for the presence he brings in the passing game. He can stretch the field and will probably be the fastest players on the field at any time on Sunday. The safties are going to need to respect that and give a few yards and that is going to open up the underneath for Heath Miller and Hines Ward. I feel strongly that this is a big reason for Heath and Hines catching a ton of balls WIDE open over the middle. Having a receiver that can get deep and catch the ball at the same time is a huge threat that the Steelers haven't had. Tone can do it but he has not been consistant with it nor does he have the God given speed that Mike does. Keeping those safties honest is huge to the underneath game and we know Ben will try a deep ball or two so it will keep that Vikings secondary honest.
Who knows what we are going to get from the run game this week. The Williams boys in the middle will really shut down the run. You will probably see the pass set up the run this week. Not saying this isn't what usually goes on but this is what will be more evident Sunday.
I think big part of the offense this week should be the no huddle offense. The Vikings do a great job of getting to the quarterback with the Williams boys and Allen on the outside so getting that defense tired with some no huddle will be good, especially when the Steelers find certain things they can exploit in the Vikings defense.
The Steelers defense is going to need to be the difference. Everyone is hyping this game as a high scoring, last person with the ball wins. If the Steelers can get in there, cause a few turnovers and make Brett Farve sweat they will be alright. LaMarr Woodley is going to be the X factor in my opinion. Everyone is going to be focusing on James Harrison on the left side and that will free up LaMarr a little bit to cause some havoc. Lets get it done.
Now the Vikings:
We all know what the Vikings are about. All day, AP. AP is having another amazing year as he is leading the league in rush through the first six weeks of pro football play. He did a pretty, scratch that, very, nice job against a Baltimore Ravens defense that people still talk about as being elite racking up 143 yards on 22 carries. He is explosive and can take over a game in an instant. It can not be stated enough how much gap responsibility will play a factor in how AP runs. If the Steelers can stay disciplined and play their game, they will be alright, just like they always are against the run.
So I don't know if you guys heard or not but the Vikings go this guy called Brett Farve? Ever heard? I am so sick and tired about hearing about Brett Farve. Sure he owns the record for most touchdown passes thrown, but he also hold the record for most picks. Listen, I have a lot of respect for Farve on the field, he is a gammer, he wins, and he can beat you on his own, but I think the Steelers can get to him and have a field day in the secondary when he starts to sling the ball around.
So far this season Farve has not shown that gunslinger usual that he has every year, but it will happen. You can bet the house on that. It might be this week. Get the pressure and anything can happen. I remember the last time the Steelers played Farve and Troy took a fumble back like 70 yards or some junk.
The Vikings have some receivers that can stretch the field. Sidney Rice can get down the field and has been Brett Farve's main target this season. He has 23 catches for 409 yards and a couple touchdown catches. Ike Taylor will probably match up against him so I feel pretty good about that. Ike is underrated. He is pretty good.
Where the Steelers need to sure up is on the tight end. Vinsanthe Shiancoe has five touchdown grabs from Brett Farve which I believe is tops in the league. He will be the red zone target for Farve so the linebackers are going to have to keep on him and know where he is inside the 20 and in the middle of the field.
Looking at the Vikings defense we see two very different things. One is that they can get after the quarterback. Jared Allen is pretty good at what he does and the Williams boys. The line is going to have their hands full. The secondary is totally different. The Vikings can be beat through the air, as seen with the Baltimore Ravens being able to throw all over them at the end of the game when they needed to. The Vikings will probably not have DB Antoine Winfield for the game as he is injured. That means they will probably have to put Benny Sapp on Santonio Holmes. Good luck with that. You can just see Ben smiling right now.
All that being said I feel pretty good about this game. Lets go out and shut up the Vikings fans.
Steelers 27, Vikings 24
Here We Go