The Pittsburg Steelers (7-6) and the Dallas Cowboys (7-6) still have hopes to make the playoffs when they meet Sunday. The fact is neither team can afford to lose any more games the rest of the season. It wouldn't necessarily be a season ending loss but it sure could be a damaging loss depending on what else happens that week.
Last week the Cowboys pulled out an inspiring last second win in Cincinnati while the Steelers lost a surprising game to the struggling Chargers at home. Can't say I saw that one coming. In Cinncinnati, it may have been more of a case of the Bengals blowing the game than Dallas winning it, but it is a win for a team that had to have one.
Big Ben a Little Rusty?
It was Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger’s first game back after being out with injuries and his play actually did show some rust.
In their loss to the Chargers, it was an interception thrown by Ben and a lateral ruled a fumble by Ben, that lead to easy points for the Chargers. It was the difference in the game as the Steelers lost by 10 points. I’m not certain that Dallas can count on Ben to make mistakes again this week. However if they can pressure him, he may still show signs of not being on top of his game just yet.
Steelers Defense is The Truth
The Steelers defense ranks at the top of the NFL in several categories. They are 1st in total yards allowed and 1st in passing yards allowed. And they are 5th in rushing yards allowed while 7th in points allowed. While they have been dominant in defense this season, Rivers the Chargers QB had a great deal of success against them last week as he threw for 200 yards and 3 TDs.
The Cowboys don’t know yet if WR Dez Bryant will be able to play in this game after injuring a finger last week. But indications are that he will try to play in the game. HERE
Romo could possibly have success throwing against the Steelers defense like Rivers did, however he will need to have his full arsenal of weapons and Dez has been a very effective one recently. To move the ball, the Cowboys will be forced to pass and having Dez out there will be needed. The Cowboys rank 3rd in the NFL in passing yards this season.
Steelers Offense without RB Mendenhall
RB Rashard Mendenhall has been suspended for this game by the Steelers so they will turn to a practice squad running back Baron Batch. That would appear to be an advantage for the Cowboys defense but it’s difficult to know what to expect from a guy who is healthy and has something to prove. Usually these young RBs give a very good effort.
I look for the Steelers offense to rely on the passing of Ben against the Cowboys defense. The Cowboys rookie CB Claibourne was injured last week so they may be down a man in the secondary. That would appear to favor the Steelers passing game for sure. So far this season, the Cowboys defense ranks a respectable 8th in passing yards allowed.
Key of the game:
It will be very important for Dallas to pressure Ben and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. When Ben is on his game, he can make the Steelers very difficult to beat but if he is off his game like last week, then Dallas has a chance to win and stay in the playoff hunt. Creating turnovers will be critical for the Dallas defense.
Both teams are pushing through injuries and trying to make it to the post season tournament. One of them will have a major set back on Sunday.