Cowboys at Steelers Week 10: Game preview, odds, prediction

The 4-4 Pittsburgh Steelers host the 7-1 Dallas Cowboys in Week 10. Here are the odds, a preview and a prediction for the game at Heinz Field.

Despite the records, the Cowboys enter the game as narrow underdogs. The Steelers are favored by two on home soil, according to Odds Shark.

Tony Romo is back at quarterback for the ‘Boys, per ESPN’s Ed Werder. But it seems unlikely he’d be thrown straight in at the deep end in the Steel City. Not when rookie Dak Prescott has been winning.

Pittsburgh needs to bounce back after failing to click offensively against the Baltimore Ravens last week. The Steelers were held to just 36 yards rushing on the road by their bitter divisional foe.

Hamstrung by the lack of a running game, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also struggled. Big Ben missed on 22 of 45 passes against a fired-up Ravens defense.

Roethlisberger will need to be on the money more often against a swarming Dallas D’. The Cowboys challenge quarterbacks with tight coverage and disciplined zones.

Pittsburgh must re-establish Le’Veon Bell on the ground to help Roethlisberger. It’s possible Bell will get back on track against a high-energy, but lightweight Cowboys D-line.

But the real pressure will be on the Steelers to stand up to the run. Dallas leads the NFL in rushing offense thanks to rookie Ezekiel Elliott and an awesome offensive line.

Pittsburgh’s defense boasts some talent up front. But more consistency is needed from rookie nose tackle Javon Hargrave. It will be tough on him this week, though, against dominant center Travis Frederick.

Odds

Line: PIT (-2)

Over/Under: 49.5

It was tough sledding for Bell against the Ravens. He managed just 32 yards on 14 carries, but this matchup favors him more.

Bell can win against a Cowboys front long on speed, but short on imposing physicality. The latter will be a problem against the rough-house interior of Pittsburgh’s O-line.

Guards David DeCastro and Ramon Foster should boss the middle. Their aggression spells trouble for Cowboys tackles Cedric Thornton, rookie Maliek Collins and Terrell McClain.

The latter is a handful, but if the Steelers control him, Bell can run riot. If he does, he’ll open up inside passing lanes for a key target.

Ladarius Green spent nine weeks languishing on the PUP list, but he may finally be ready to go. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin provided a positive updated on Green, per NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala:

If Green plays, he’ll be a matchup nightmare for these Cowboys. The ex-San Diego Chargers tight end has wide receiver-like speed.

He can stretch the seams vertically and is a terror on shallow and deep crossing patterns. Dallas possesses speed at linebacker, but nobody who can stay with Green.

Pittsburgh will need its offense to control the flow of the game, because the defense may have a hard time corralling Elliott.

The Steelers may have shut down the Ravens on the ground last week, but the Cowboys are a different proposition. They are owners of the best run-blocking front in football. The Dallas offense is also built around the dynamism of Elliott.

His combination of nifty footwork, deceptive upper-body brawn and jet-heeled speed is dominating defenses. Elliott spells trouble for a Steelers D’ hammered by the run more than once this season.

Jay Ajayi of the Miami Dolphins topped 200 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 6. LeGarrette Blount stomped his way to 127 yards for the New England Patriots in Week 7.

A big problem has been the inability of Hargrave to hold double teams in the middle. The rookie is likely to be overwhelmed again whenever Frederick and right guard Zack Martin clamp their mitts on him.

Elliott has learned how to trust and follow his blocks more in recent weeks. His ability to make quick jump cuts back into the inside lanes could doom the Steelers.

It’s close to do-or-die time for the Steelers. They have the weapons to exploit the Dallas defense, but they must stand up to Elliott on the other side of the ball.

Pick: Steelers 27, Cowboys 20

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