The Steelers are coming off an unplanned bye, thanks to the Titans just completely blowing off Covid-19 protocols. Before their week of rest, the Steelers had the joy of playing the Texans.
Throughout the game, the Steelers struggled without their downfield, big-play threat in Dionte Johnson. As the game went on, the Steelers defense clamped down and the offense settled in, as the Steelers went on a 10-0 run in the second half to close out the winless Texans. It turned out to be the second to the last straw for Texans coach and GM, Bill O’Brien. He was fired just a few days ago, following the team’s loss at Minnesota.
Gauging the Steelers by their three wins, we know the team is very well-rounded. The wins have not been particularly impressive, but it seems like if Duck Hodges were quarterbacking the first three weeks, they’d likely be 1-2 and underdogs at home against the Eagles. Good thing for us, that’s not the universe we’re in, Ben is healthy, and the team is getting the wins in crunch time. The key to making a deep run will be the health and play of their offensive line.
Steelers vs Eagles preview
The Eagles are seven-point underdogs headed into this game. Before we consider the outcome, we must first look at these two teams against the spread in 2020. The Eagles are just 1-3 against the spread, while the Steelers are 2-1 against the spread. Since the Eagles are on the road, they’re getting more points than they probably should here. I don’t think the home-field advantage is near the same it’s been every other season, so I expect this to be closer than the oddsmakers have laid out, especially given the two teams’ records against the spread.
In some ways, both teams have advantages in this game. The game plans for both will be unique but the general ideas will be fairly obvious to them both. For the Eagles, they’re going to try to put the Steelers in third and long situations, so their pass rush can be more effective against Ben and his quick pass tendencies.
For the Eagles, this is a double-edged sword. Their secondary is so weak, that any failed blitz could result in a huge play for the Steelers. The key to putting the Steelers in these situations will be focusing on stopping the run and quick passes on first and second down. Offensively, the Eagles will likely be relying a lot on more high percentage throws and trying to establish a run game with Miles Sanders. I think Sanders will be heavily utilized in the game. Not only will he be a critical check-down candidate, but he will also be instrumental in keeping the Steelers front in check.
For the Steelers, they’re going to pick their moments with the blitzes. Carson Wentz has the ability to scramble outside the pocket, so it’s one of the few threats the Steelers are going to have to worry about during the game from the Eagles offense. With Wentz’s troubles this year, I think the Steelers will stay fairly bunched around the line, committed to stopping the run and confusing Wentz as much as possible pre-snap.
I expect the safeties to move up quite often, as the Steelers will certainly attempt to show blitz a lot more often than they’ll actually utilize it. This should set up some nice traps for the Steelers defense.
I like the Steelers to pull this one out, but I think this game will be much more of a grind than the spread suggests (Steelers -7 on DraftKings PA Sportsbook). I think the Steelers may fall prey to a few Miles Sanders screens early, but I think they’ll find their stride toward the end of the first half.
I love the Steelers’ ability to protect leads late in games and feel confident a late Wentz turnover will be the Eagles’ undoing in this one.