The Ferocious Beast That Guards Heinz Field's Endzones
San Diego at Pittsburgh(-6)
Sure, go ahead and say it. The Steelers have no shot at defeating the 9-8 San Diego juggernaut. I mean, how does a team ranked #1 in defense beat the 20th ranked rushing team in the league? It just can’t happen!
Definitely not cursing.
Well I disagree. I know, I’m going out on a huge limb here, but I think San Diego's sauce is weak. Darren Sproles is great, but are you telling me he’s going to outrun James Harrison, James Farrior AND Troy Polamalu? I don’t think so. This run D is as stingy as they come, which is bad news for Philly Rivers because the pass D is even better. It really is the first time in my life that I have real faith in the defensive secondary. In the past, I cringed when the ball was in the air, now I halfway expect an interception on every play. Overconfidence? Very likely. But these guys ruin QB ratings like Kevin Costner ruins movies. Which is why I was stunned to see Bucky Brooks of SI.com say this in giving the edge to the Chargers in the defensive secondary:
"Defensive Backs: Chargers Although the Chargers ranked 31st in pass defense during the regular season, Antonio Cromartie and Quentin Jammer are regarded as two of the top corners in the AFC." [note: neither recieved any All-Pro votes OR made the Pro Bowl]
Ok, now I know I don’t get paid to write about sports(Devo?...), so maybe I’m a bit naive to think that when I see that your team is ranked next to last in pass D, your pass D isn’t very good. It takes astounding leaps of logic to somehow think the San Diego secondary(ranked #31) is better than the Pittsburgh secondary(#1). Hey Bucky, you know who is regarded as a great quarterback? Brett Favre. Doesn’t mean he’s that good anymore. I know I’m dangerously close to "we get no respect" territory here, but I just don’t think Rivers is going to find many open spots to throw, especially from his back with Lamar Woodley standing over him.
Even OJ wouldn't fuck with this defense.
The weather is likely to be cold, not Ice Bowl cold, but a 23 degree wind chill will keep Antonio Gates' ankle from loosening up and small guys like Sproles will be fighting to stay warm all day. Pittsburgh is well rested, injury free for the first time all season and will be ready to play. There will be no "we forgot how to tackle" moments from the Steelers, as Coach Tomlin had them working on fundamentals throughout the bye week. I just don’t see a let down in intensity coming from this defense.
There’s a lot of talk about the condition of the turf at Heinz Field. Some say it hurts the Steelers fast D to play in soggy and muddy conditions. But I take James Harrison's word for it, "I like playing on grass, mud, anything that slows down an offense." And facing a speedster like Darren Sproles, the mud will be an ally of the Steelers this Sunday. Sproles quick cuts and top-line speed will cause a few falls and possibly an injury.
Will the Payoffs from Week 11 Carry Over to the Playoffs? We Will Find Out Sunday
Another thing people say to look at is the last time the two teams played, in Week 11, an 11-10 win for the Steelers. Sounds like a close game, but not really. The Steelers outgained the Chargers 410-218 with Big Ben going 31-41 for 308yds. Not to mention one of the most lopsided officiating performances in history, a 2/5-13/115 edge in penalties called against the Steelers. To be fair, the Chargers looked good in that game. But good isn’t enough to beat one of the best defenses of the last decade. That win was one of the closest of the season for the Steelers, but the Chargers had 3 one-point games and were 1-2 in them. In games decided by 7 or fewer points, they were 3-7(inc. last week). The Steelers were 6-2 in similar games. Close games in the playoffs require a tough D to win. The Steelers have the best, San Diego one of the worst. It’s as simple as that.
The Steelers Offense
The Steelers Defense
I know I haven’t talked much about Pittsburgh’s offense, but they need only be adequate here, the real battle is when San Diego has the ball. That’s a battle the Steelers will win convincingly, 24-10.
PS- Im not a superstitious guy(umm...) but having the Sports Guy pick SD to win and SI putting them on the cover makes me feel confident the Steelers will shit on them.
As for the other, non-important, non-Steeler related games, these WILL BE the scores:
Baltimore 27 - 24 Tennessee
Philadelphia 14 - 31 New York
Arizona 21 - 27 Carolina