After a tough 22-20 loss to the hated Ravens on Thanksgiving night; the black and gold find themselves back in the murky waters in regards to grabbing a playoff spot.
Their only shot would be to win out and it starts this week at home against another team trying to find their way into the playoffs, the Dolphins.
Both teams have been up and down this year and because of that, the loser of this one will most assuredly be eliminated from any real possibility of gaining a post season berth.
Here are the Keys to A Steelers Victory:
1. Pittsburgh needs to play to the weather conditions. It’s going to be a wintry mix and the black and gold will probably need to truly run the ball effectively. Throwing may not be a real option so utilizing multiple backs and different run formations may be their best bet.
2. The O line must block out Olivier Vernon. Vernon leads the Dolphins with 10.5 sacks and is capable of getting to Big Ben every play. It’s up to the O line and the running backs to pick him up and keep him away from the Steelers’ franchise man.
3. Jason Worilds is going to have to continue to play the way he has over the last month. Worilds has been a wrecking ball of late and the Steelers are going to need him to continue playing that way. His ability to blow up both passing and running plays has been pertinent to the teams’ recent success.
4. Special teams must step up. In a game where the weather may be a factor, the special teams are key.
The kicking game must place the ball effectively and the coverage teams must stop the Dolphins from making any big plays. Field position will play a big factor in this game and it will all be won or lost with
1. Mike Wallace-How will he be treated in his return to Pittsburgh? His numbers are definitely down as a Dolphin but the fans won’t care about that. They’ll let him know he should have stayed.
2. Ike Taylor-He’s been on the list a few weeks running but it’s really beginning to look like the end of the line for Ike. Will he be able to step up this week and cover a top receiver like Wallace or will he get burned
3. Mike Adams-It appears Adams will be back in the starting lineup with the injury to Kelvin Beachum. Did he learn by being benched or will he get burned play after play like he did as the starter earlier this year.
4. Troy Polamalu-He played linebacker last week, where will he lineup this week? He’s still capable of making plays anywhere on the field, it will be interesting to see how he’s used. If the game is sloppy, expect him to be a linebacker again, if it’s not, he could go back to safety.Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.