In this Aug. 19, 2013, photo, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53) prepares to snap the the ball to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In this Aug. 19, 2013, photo, Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53) prepares to snap the the ball to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) during an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Steelers quest for number seven opens on Monday night at the defending NFC East Champion Washington Redskins.  The Steelrs will be without LeVeon Bell (suspended 3 games), Martavis Bryant (suspended for the season), Bud Dupree (on IR for at least 8 weeks) and Markus Wheaton (hurt). That’s a lot of fire power not playing.

That said, there’s a lot of fire power still playing and Big Ben, Antonio Brown, DeAnglo Williams, Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt will be ready along with the rest of the black and gold.  It may be an away game but that stadium will be packed with terrible towels. The Redskins are aware of this and handing out burgundy towels to try to counter the invasion from Pittsburgh. We’ll see how that goes.

Here are the Keys to A Steelers Victory
•    Big Ben needs to be kept upright. As always, Ben needs to stay protected. The Steelers offensive line is now amongst the best in the league and they need to ensure they protect their MVP. If they do, he’ll have a great day in the air.

2. The secondary is going to need to prove they are better than last year.  Quite frankly, I’m a little worried about this unit, while they should be improved, you just never know. I’ve written many times that it concerns me that William Gay is the number one corner on this team and while I hope I’m wrong about his abilities, I don’t think I am.  Kirk Cousins could put up big numbers against these guys if they falter.

3. The defense is going to need to blitz the heck out of Cousins.  This is necessitated by my perception of the lack of talent on the secondary. They need to make up for the weaknesses on that unit.

4. DeAngelo Williams needs to rush for at least 75 yards to allow for a mixed offense and open up big plays downfield for Big Ben to A.B.

Here are a Few Things to Watch:
•    A.B. vs. Josh Norman-The best wide receiver in football against one of the best corners. Who will win the individual matchup?

2.  The crowd-It’s guaranteed to be at LEAST 50% black and gold….if not more.

3.  Sammie Coates-With Bryant suspended and now Wheaton hurt, look for Coates to step up and become Pittsburgh’s next great receiver.

4. James Harrison-He should see even more snaps with Dupree out. How impactful will the old man be?

Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com– Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at mike@steelnationassociation.com.

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