The Steelers have to be worried about these three things
The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking for their first Super Bowl appearance since 2010. In order to get there, they’ll have to beat the red-hot New England Patriots and their high-powered offense.
While Tom Brady and Co. get most of the attention for the Pats – and rightfully so – they’re not the only ones the Steelers have to be worried about. With the way the Steelers move the ball on offense, Pittsburgh has to be wary of New England’s defense, which ranked No. 1 in the league in points allowed.
Here are three things the Steelers have to be worried about.
Dion Lewis' versatility
The X-factor in this game is Dion Lewis. Not because he’s a three-down back who will carry it 30 times, but because he can impact the game in so many different ways. He showed that against the Texans when he scored three touchdowns in three different ways. Lewis is a perfect complement to LeGarrette Blount’s hard running style, bringing speed and elusiveness to the ground game and passing attack.
The Steelers will have to focus plenty of attention on Lewis every time he touches the ball, which should be plenty. Ryan Shazier, one of the league’s most athletic linebackers, has the speed and agility to keep up with Lewis, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. They did a great job containing Tyreek Hill, who’s more explosive than Lewis, so they’ll have to use a similar game plan against the Patriots.
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The Patriots’ run defense
The Patriots’ defense doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. They were No. 1 in points allowed and rarely allow big plays. Not to mention, they were pretty good against the run, too. New England allowed the third-fewest yards on the ground this season, while also allowing just 3.9 yards per carry. In the playoffs, Le’Veon Bell has been exceptional, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
This will be the pivotal matchup in the game. If the Patriots can stop Bell and contain him early, it’ll force the Steelers to go to the aerial attack – especially if New England gets out to a lead. The Steelers have to be concerned about not only playing from behind, but about the Patriots’ dominant run defense.
The guy playing quarterback on the other side just happens to be one of the league’s best. Tom Brady should give the Steelers major cause for concern, considering the tremendous season he put together. No matter who he’s throwing to, Brady simply gets the job done week in and week out. He won’t have Rob Gronkowski at his disposal, but that won’t make much of a difference, as it hasn’t for weeks.
In order for the Steelers to win this game, they’ll need to get significant pressure on Brady. That doesn’t mean blitzing him is the answer, but rather making him uncomfortable with just four pass rushers. If the Steelers can do that, they’ll be in good shape. If Brady has time to sit in the pocket and go through his progressions, it’ll be the same old result: a Patriots win.