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Old 10-20-2009, 11:28 PM   #1
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Default Steelers-Vikings: It's still early

Steelers-Vikings: It's still early
By Bob Smizik | Tuesday, 12:30 a.m.

After a stretch of games against two of the many awful, awful teams in the NFL, the Steelers get back to reality Sunday when they play the undefeated Minnesota Vikings. Compared to the past two weeks, when victory was all but assured and the usual edge that accompanies Steeler games was missing, the matchup with the Brett Favre-led Vikings almost seems like a playoff game.


It’s only the seventh game. We’re not even to the halfway point of the season. A loss will hurt but will hardly be season-ending. Let's not forget, the Steelers were 7-5 after 12 games in 2005 and looking nothing like the Super Bowl champion they would become. A win over the Vikings would be nice, but would hardly mean the Steelers are on their way to the playoffs, let alone the Super Bowl.

Although the Steelers are tied for first in the AFC North division with the Cincinnati Bengals, this season, Brett Favrelike the last one, could well come down to the two games with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens, not the Bengals, will be the Steelers chief rival for the division title.

As long as two games remain with the Ravens, who lost by two points at Minnesota Sunday, there figures to be nothing resolved about this season.

The Steelers and Ravens seem to be following similar profiles. Both were once known for their great defense and adherence to running the ball, but they've slipped a bit defensively and are looking to strong-armed quarterbacks to lead the way.

Ben Roethlisberger, in his sixth season, is among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Baltimore’s Joe Flacco is moving rapidly in that direction. Flacco was regarded as a game manager as a rookie last season. This year he has the look of a gunslinger. The Ravens are eighth in the NFL in passing and the Steelers second. Roethlisberger is first in passing yards, Flacco is fourth.

The Steelers play Baltimore Nov. 27 at M&T Bank Stadium and Dec. 29 at Heinz Field. Those will have the very real feel of a playoff game.

The Steelers and Vikings is an important game, particularly for the Steelers. But even if the Steelers lose, they’ll be a game out of first with a game remaining against the Bengals, at home, and two with the Ravens.

What this game should mostly serve as is a barometer of how good the Steelers are. The Vikings are the best team they’ve faced this season and sometimes good teams play up to the level of their competition. The Steelers have not been overly impressive but their recent history tells us they can be excellent.

The Vikings, like the Steelers, have had their share of the awful opponents, with wins over Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis. But they’ve also beaten Baltimore, San Francisco and Green Bay.

The Vikings Adrian Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with 104 yards a game and Favre is third in passing efficiency, one slot in front of Roethlisberger, who leads in yards.

A key area where the Vikings excel is scoring. They're second in the NFl with 31 points a game.

It should be a dandy but remember this: It's the seventh week of the season.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:49 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers-Vikings: It's still early

its gonna be a tough game, by no means easy, but its not impossible to win...if we do wat we always do, which is play up or down to our level of competition, i give us a real shot in this game. the experts will say the steelers will lose, but i believe if we shut down peterson, favre will make enough mistakes for us to win, especially with troy getting increasingly healthier
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Old 10-21-2009, 04:29 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers-Vikings: It's still early

Sunday can't get here soon enough.
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