The Pittsburgh Steelers are traveling to Foxborough Sunday to take on the New England Patriots.
The Steelers had a rough start to the season and they are looking to finish strong. The Steelers are 2 – 5 on the season and coming off a disappointing loss to the Oakland Raiders.
The Patriots, meanwhile, are 6 – 2, and coming off a come from behind win against the Dolphins.
Here are some key matchups to watch for Sunday.
1. Patriots Wide Receivers vs Steelers Defensive backs
– A lot of people are pointing the finger at Tom Brady and he is taking too much of the blame for the offensive struggles for New England. Brady is playing behind a shaky offensive line that has struggled in every game but one to protect him and a average receiving core. And lately the Patriots receivers are having a tough time finding separation. Some of the sacks Brady has taken over the past few games is coverage sacks because nobody is getting open. Another problem is Brady doesn’t have a lot of trust in his young receivers, and Edelman, and Amendola are receiving attention and not getting open quickly enough. Brady is forcing passes, seeing ghost, and not being accurate because of these elements, and Brady is too blame for some of it, but come on, Brady is doing his best with what he has.
Now against the Dolphins, Dobson was running better routes and showed better hands so we will see how he progresses against the Steelers but I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it.
The Steelers have the number 2 passing defense in the NFL, this is their strength.
Can New England’s receivers get open in this game? Who will win the battle? I think we know, but this is an important match to watch between the Steelers strength and the Patriots weakness.
2. RB Stevan Ridley vs DT Steve McLendon
– The Steelers run defense is ranked 27th and the Patriots RB Stevan Ridley is pretty good.
Steve McLendon has 24 tackles on the season and he and his defense will try to contain the Patriots run game. Of course, the Pats could help them by not playing Stevan Ridley very much, like they did against the Dolphins. Who knows why either, I don’t, why was the team’s best RB on the bench for the majority of the first half?
Hopefully Ridley will be on the field and play a lot against this defense because they will need him because the Steelers pass defense is number 2 in the NFL so passing will be tough sledding for an already struggling passing attack.
The Pats play better offensively when they commit to running the football. This will be an interesting matchup to watch because it very well could mean the game and it is a match I expect Ridley to win… IF Ridley is playing.
3. CB Alfonzo Dennard vs WR Antonio Brown
Dennard will most likely be on Antonio Brown, Big Ben’s favorite target, making this a big match. Dennard is a great cover corner with the ability to shut down anybody’s wide receivers, and he will do his part in making sure Brown has no impact or little impact in the game.
Brown is fast, good hands, and an excellent route runner. Dennard will need to play good to stop him and this is not an easy game for New England. The defense will need to play another great game to keep the Pats in it till their offense decides to score.