Thursday, October 04, 2012

Soooo Shady: Eagles at Steelers Preview

I'm going to say that LeSean McCoy is the key to this game because I think the Steelers will be able to limit the amount of damage Michael Vick does if they can keep Shady in check.  If he's able to gouge them like Darren McFadden did in the Week 3, then they're not going to be able to contain Vick, either.

McCoy is the most talented player on a very talented offense.  He's such a bad ass that he used to say his name when he juked someone in practice as an extra-special kind of taunt.  He has excellent vision, great feet, good acceleration, and is a very capable receiver.  However, he's not a real home run threat and he doesn't do well when he doesn't have nice gaps to run through.  If the Steeler defense can maintain gap integrity, fill the running lanes, and no one tries to be a hero, they should be able to keep him hemmed in.  At least I hope so.

The Eagles are 3-1, but it hasn't been pretty.  They've won their three games by a total of four points, but they've faced a pretty formidable schedule (except for when they played the Browns).  The big issue thus far this season has been turnovers.  They commit a lot of those.  The Steelers don't force a lot of those.  So, in a case of the "moveable object versus the resistable force" the Steelers will need to force some turnovers to win this game.  This game will most likely turn into a shootout and the Steelers will need those extra possessions in order to win.  I think that they have it in them, but this game fills me with dread.

Philly has basically returned their "Dream Team" roster from 2011 (minus Vince Young), but they're actually finishing games and have been able to overcome the fact that they're their own worst enemy.  There's a ton of talent on this roster and it's finally being used properly, most notably by allowing Michael Vick to be Michael Vick and not forcing a bunch of man coverage corners to play zone.  If they play together and don't beat themselves, they could route the Steelers and it could be an ugly game.

Really, all signs and match-ups point to an Eagles victory.  But, I picked the Steelers in Pick Em this week because of what I think are several important factors.

  1. They're at home and they play better at home.
  2. They're coming off a bye and they've had two weeks to prepare for Philadelphia.
  3. Everyone's healthy for the first time this season, most importantly James Harrison and Troy Polamalu are coming back, which should be a big boost for the defense.  I'm happy that Mendenhall is coming back and I'm starting him in two fantasy football leagues, but I think the defense's ability to get stops and force turnovers is going to be the key to this game.
  4. The defense got embarrassed in Oakland and they're pissed off.  Historically, they turn in a strong performance the week after they get beat down and subsequently accused of being too old.  There's a lot of veteran leadership on the defense, but, more importantly, there are a lot of guys that take pride in playing good defense.  Their ability to come back from a poor showing and force everyone to gulp down a frosty glass of STFU is what's going to win this game for the Steelers.
I feel confident in those four points, but I'm still filled with dread.  This game could left me up, or it could crush my spirits, with the Steelers being crushed as well.

But, what the hell, gotta predict something, right?

Steelers 31, Eagles 27

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