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mesaSteeler
11-25-2008, 06:19 PM
Well-matched Patriots, Steelers should come down to QBs
Nov. 25, 2008
By Charley Casserly
CBS Sports
http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/11132590/2

This week’s Patriots-Steelers game clearly has huge playoff implications. I think Pittsburgh is the second best team in the AFC, behind the Jets, and ahead of the Titans.


Though I would rank the Patriots behind those three teams and the Colts, it is a moving picture for the Patriots with the development of Matt Cassel and their passing game.

Pats offense vs. Steelers defense

I would look for New England to come out in three- and four-receiver sets and go with their no-huddle offense and throw the football. If they try to run the ball from a normal set, they will not have much success.

Where they have an advantage over Pittsburgh is with their receiver corps matched up against the secondary of Pittsburgh. I do not think Pittsburgh's corners can stay with Randy Moss and Wes Welker.

The Steelers must double cover Moss. You must be physical with Moss at the line of scrimmage and bang him around. When you do this he will not fight through it all of the time. The teams that have had the most success against him have done this and also kept a safety over the top.

Welker is a move-the-chains type of receiver. That means he is tough to cover when you give him a two-way go, and he is very good with running with the ball after the catch. You should try to be physical with him at the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing of his routes and also because he is not a very big receiver.

The Steelers don't have anyone who can cover Welker one-on-one. If they try to cover him that way and Cassel reads it correctly, the Steelers will be in trouble.

However, when you double Moss and Welker, a couple of things open up for the offense. It puts tight end Ben Watson in single coverage and he can beat the Steelers safeties or linebackers. Also it leaves receiver Jabar Gaffney in single coverage, and he also can exploit the Steelers corners.

It also opens up running lanes for Cassel, something he has taken advantage of the last couple of games.

Spreading out Pittsburgh offers the potential of removing one of their excellent OLBs from a pass-rushing position. The Steelers will try to find ways to avoid this and use LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison as pass rushers on a consistent basis.

The Steelers’ edge on defense is that their strong line can stop the Patriots running game, which they have done against better running teams like the Giants and Redskins. Their other edge on defense is their OLBs match up as pass rushers vs. the Patriots offensive tackles: Matt Light and Nick Kaczur. Neither one of these tackles can block Harrison and Woodley on a consistent basis.

The biggest improvement in the Patriots’ offense the past few weeks has been the development of Cassel. The way he has progressed in running the no-huddle offense and making quicker decisions has given the Patriots’ offense a much-needed jolt, allowing them to go back to their spread offense. The no-huddle offense with the spread formations puts a lot of pressure on the defense and it makes the reads simpler for the QB.

This will be Cassel's toughest test to date. The Steelers front seven is better than the Patriots’ front, and Pittsburgh will clearly try to rattle Cassel with blitzes.

Early in the year Cassel tended to hold the ball and would feel the rush and take sacks. He has improved steadily in both of those areas. He still will miss some reads on open receivers but he is improving.

The dimension he gives you that Tom Brady does not is his ability to run. He can run for first downs, and when he gets outside the pocket he keeps his eyes down field to find receivers. He also has an ability to throw on the run accurately.

The key for the Steelers to win this side of the ball is to try to disrupt the rhythm of the receivers and mix in their pressures to confuse Cassel and get their hits on him. They must not let New England take their OLB's out of the game by formations nor allow the no-huddle offense to undermine Pittsburgh's complexity on defense.

For the Patriots to be successful when they have the ball, it will fall on Cassel's shoulders to read the blitzes correctly and make the plays down the field when he takes those shots. He has been inconsistent at that this year.

Pats defense vs. Steelers offense

New England will have trouble stopping Pittsburgh's offense. The Patriots secondary and linebackers can't cover Steelers receivers Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington nor tight end Heath Miller.

New England's outside linebackers, Mike Vrabel and Pierre Woods, are not as good as Pittsburgh's outside linebackers, but also Pittsburgh's tackles are not as good as New England's. So it is possible for the Patriots to get some pressure on Ben Roethlisberger.

Roethlisberger has been vulnerable to the blitz and pressure because at times, he and his receivers would not be on the same page on their "hot" reads. He will also hold the ball some to try to make big plays down the field.

Pittsburgh will have trouble running inside against New England, but that is not its strength anyway. The Steelers' best running plays are to the outside with Willie Parker. They have a chance to be successful on those.

Conclusion

The Steelers are the better team. They are more solid in more areas. They have a strong defense that can stop the run and pressure the QB.

Individually their secondary is not that good in coverage. But with the pressure their front seven gives them, plus the way they play zone defense to take away the deep ball and mix coverages to confuse the QB, they are able to mask their deficiencies in pass coverage.

On offense Pittsburgh has a very good set of weapons with. Its offensive line is average and will give up sacks, but the Steelers can score points.

New England will have trouble stopping Pittsburgh because of its secondary, but should be able to take away the run. I believe the Patriots can move the ball on the Steelers but might have trouble scoring in the red zone because they will have trouble running the ball.

The better team usually wins, but I also believe whichever QB plays the best will lead his team to victory. A big part of that will be who turns the ball over the least. The Steelers should win this game and I will pick them, but the Patriots can beat them, especially if they get into a scoring contest.

This game will be huge for Cassel. I believe he is ready for this test which could also be the first cold- or bad-weather game of his career, all 11 games of it so far.

("You must be physical with Moss at the line of scrimmage and bang him around. " Well I think the best D in the league can oblige and kick the crap out of Moss. So the writer thinks our O-line is "average". In that case I would hate to see a bad O-line. - mesa)

stillers4me
11-25-2008, 06:21 PM
There ya, go. Ben's the man.

43Hitman
11-25-2008, 06:30 PM
Our O-line is average at best. Reality is a mofo. But the last few games Ben has been able to get rid of the ball alot quicker thus hiding the deficiency's of the O-line.

TerribleSteelyMcBeam
11-25-2008, 06:40 PM
yeah this game will, once again, be won by our defense

hopefully ben and company decided to show up


go stillers!

Steelers & I
11-25-2008, 07:08 PM
Good article, I like Casserly. My only disagreeemnt with the entire article is this:

"It puts tight end Ben Watson in single coverage and he can beat the Steelers safeties or linebackers."

I KNOW that Troy can handle Ben Watson and if need be, Timmons would give him all that he could handle as well.

Hammer Of The GODS
11-25-2008, 07:26 PM
This game comes down to the Refs in my opinion. If they call the game equally and call the holding calls when they occur then this game IMO will come down to field position.
If the Defense has a long field to defend they are even tougher to beat.
SO Punting is a critical as well as SP coverage.

Here's to Belicheat gettin hit by a friggin meteor!

Steelers & I
11-25-2008, 07:26 PM
"So the writer thinks our O-line is "average". In that case I would hate to see a bad O-line. - mesa)"

I do disagree with you mesa. The Steelers offensive line IS average. They're not near as bad as some people portray them to be.

I really don't understand why some Steelers fans believe that our offensive line is so much worse than most in the NFL? Do they EVER watch any other NFL teams play?? MOST NFL teams have offensive line problems, there are only 4 or 5 NFL teams that field an overall-EXCELLENT offensive line. That's just the way it is in todays NFL, premium offensive linemen are VERY difficult to come by and QUITE PRICEY to boot.

If the Steelers gameplan correctly, then this offensive line can show their overall average abilities as witnessed by ZERO sacks versus the Bengals and 4 versus the Chargers, yeah 4, not too bad when reflecting back on some of their performances this season.

Average is frankly GOOD ENOUGH TO GET IT DONE so long as the gameplan doesn't require that AVERAGE offensive linemen "play beyond their means".

markymarc
11-25-2008, 09:00 PM
Good article, I like Casserly. My only disagreeemnt with the entire article is this:

"It puts tight end Ben Watson in single coverage and he can beat the Steelers safeties or linebackers."

I KNOW that Troy can handle Ben Watson and if need be, Timmons would give him all that he could handle as well.

No question Timmons or Troy could handle Watson if needed. Now Farrior or Foote is a different story. Also in that article Casserly says about the Cheaters could win in a shootout. I totally disagree. First of all, the Cheaters are not going to score a lot of points against our defense. Not going to happen. Secondly, who says Ben can't help this offense score a lot of points on the Cheaters defense.

Galax Steeler
11-26-2008, 04:41 AM
I look for this to be a good game if Ben can hit Santonio on the quick slants like he did last week against the Bengals then it should open it up down the field for Washington and Ward and hopefully Sweed will get some looks also.

jdsdaguy
11-26-2008, 06:02 AM
IMO the only thing that has beat us this year is the receivers not catching passes that should have been caught, Ben not throwing the ball well or making bad decisions and holding the ball to long, and the inability to have a productive running game. i think that if we can make the running game atleast a threat, it will take alot of uneccesary pressure off the qb and receivers. it will also open up the offence as a whole. basic fundamentles in the nfl. and thats how bilicheat has beat us up lately, by taking away what we do best and in that, exploits our weaknesses. it also puts our defence on the field way to much. they have to rest at some point in the game, so they can come out fresh. they always seem to make a play when we need it and if our offence can sneak a running game in then i think we could showcase this game.

fansince'76
11-26-2008, 08:46 AM
i think that if we can make the running game atleast a threat, it will take alot of uneccesary pressure off the qb and receivers. it will also open up the offence as a whole. basic fundamentles in the nfl. and thats how bilicheat has beat us up lately, by taking away what we do best and in that, exploits our weaknesses.

We ran for 181 yards on 32 carries (5.7 YPC) against them last year and still lost by 3 TDs. I think having a healthy Troy and Clark back deep will help. We were doing OK in the game last year until we got beat deep. Once we got beat deep, we started dropping back more in coverage and Brady played catch with Welker on short passes the rest of the game and ripped us to shreds underneath.

drizze99
11-26-2008, 08:58 AM
I would feel so much better if McFadden was playing. I am not sold on this new guy Fernando Bryant.

All in all, that was a good article.

GutterflowerSteel
11-26-2008, 09:14 AM
Casserly gives a fair assessment of both teams. He's right though - the OLine is just average, but the Steelers ARE the better team. We will prevail as long as we don't turn the ball over, and receivers hang on to the damn ball. Our defense will get to Cassel and get physical with Moss and Welker, which will hopefully create turnovers - and another INT for Troy :tt02: We didn't have him healthy the last time we played, and he and Clark will be the difference.

memphissteelergirl
11-26-2008, 09:22 AM
Average is frankly GOOD ENOUGH TO GET IT DONE so long as the gameplan doesn't require that AVERAGE offensive linemen "play beyond their means".

That is actually an excellent observation....never thought of it that way before.

HometownGal
11-26-2008, 09:46 AM
I'm not overly concerned about Moss - I think the Steelers secondary can well handle him. My concern is Welker. That little pissant seems to get open no matter who is covering him. I think this game is won by the Steelers if they can keep a ton of pressure on Ass Chin, Jr. and not give him time to set up, forcing him to get rid of the ball or end up on his doopa. The Steelers need to take the crowd out of the game early and the Steelers O has to score on any opportunity afforded to them.

GBMelBlount
11-26-2008, 09:59 AM
I'm not overly concerned about Moss - I think the Steelers secondary can well handle him. My concern is Welker. That little pissant seems to get open no matter who is covering him. I think this game is won by the Steelers if they can keep a ton of pressure on Ass Chin, Jr. and not give him time to set up, forcing him to get rid of the ball or end up on his doopa. The Steelers need to take the crowd out of the game early and the Steelers O has to score on any opportunity afforded to them.

"Ass Chin Jr." - LOL!

I agree with what you're saying though. I think the defense needs to absolutely hammer Welker, Moss and Casshole early.

lilyoder6
11-26-2008, 10:05 AM
i can see ike man up on moss... ike has done good this yr manning up on some top tier wr's... witht eh welker sit.. u'll just need a lb to cover the flats where welker likes 2 go

RoethlisBURGHer
11-26-2008, 10:06 AM
One thing we need to do is score early. I wanna try to get a 14 point lead on them at least, make them play catch up so we can let our linebackers pin their ears back and blitz Cassel to death.

I have a feeling we will be seeing a good amount of Lawrence Timmons in the game because he's a better coverage LB than Foote is.

meelanova
11-26-2008, 10:20 AM
We ran for 181 yards on 32 carries (5.7 YPC) against them last year and still lost by 3 TDs. I think having a healthy Troy and Clark back deep will help. We were doing OK in the game last year until we got beat deep. Once we got beat deep, we started dropping back more in coverage and Brady played catch with Welker on short passes the rest of the game and ripped us to shreds underneath.

I agree. What made even more angry about last year's game was that they deep with our own trick play. (playoffs vs. Bengals) :banging:

markymarc
11-26-2008, 05:39 PM
I have a feeling we will be seeing a good amount of Lawrence Timmons in the game because he's a better coverage LB than Foote is.

I hope you are right. Timmons must be on the field for most of the defensive plays to help out with their spread offense and the dink and dunk passes. Timmons could be a big difference maker in just helping out in coverage and may even be able to pick up a sack or two.

Steelers & I
11-26-2008, 07:17 PM
I'm not overly concerned about Moss - I think the Steelers secondary can well handle him. My concern is Welker. That little pissant seems to get open no matter who is covering him. I think this game is won by the Steelers if they can keep a ton of pressure on Ass Chin, Jr. and not give him time to set up, forcing him to get rid of the ball or end up on his doopa. The Steelers need to take the crowd out of the game early and the Steelers O has to score on any opportunity afforded to them.


Yeah, lol, like GBMelBlount said, Ass Chin Jr. :sofunny:

I agree with your Welker point, he's my main concern. I'm hoping that someone gets a good shot on him early, nothing too severe, just ring his bell a bit.

steel striker
11-26-2008, 09:17 PM
I think when were on defense pressure on cassel is the key make him uncomfortable. I think we will get a few picks off cassel. Now we got to score td's at all cost espeically when were in the red zone. I still say if Ben makes good decisions no turn overs and, bring the heat on defense we will beat the cheats.