Friday, September 14, 2012

Week Two: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets Preview

What did we learn from week one? There were a lot of unknowns coming into the loss against the Denver Broncos. We learned that the Steelers have a larger variety of weapons than Todd Haley has ever dealt with before and he had problems getting everyone involved. We learned, well at least I did, that Jonathan Dwyer is the best option this team has at running back and should start seeing the majority of the carries in the very near future. We also learned, even though a lot of fans don't want to admit it, that this defense is going to lose this team some games this year.


Steelers Offense vs. Jets Defense: Darrelle Revis won't play in this game and won't even make the trip to Pittsburgh after sustaining a concussion in their first game against the Buffalo Bills. That immediately changes a lot of the game for both sides of the ball. We saw last week that Mike Wallace could step right into the lineup and make a difference.

Even with Revis out of the lineup, the Steelers may try to establish the run early and often as they did against Denver. C.J. Spiller had a big day against the Jets last weekend after Fred Jackson went down with an injury. That could be an opportunity to get Chris Rainey involved in the game. He's a similar back to Spiller and it would be nice to see them utilize him more in this game. If nothing else, he can create match-up problems which is a good thing to do when their best defensive player isn't going to be in the lineup.

The biggest part of this game for the Steelers is going to be how effective they are in the red zone. Even though the Jets put up 48 points last week, their offense is far from prolific. Scoring touchdowns instead of field goals will go a long way in making this game much easier to win and win convincingly. Haley's offense had the same shortcomings in week one as Arians' old offense did. For example, to start the second half, they had a nine minute drive that resulted in just a field goal. If that's a touchdown, we might be having an entirely different conversation this week.

Steelers Defense vs. Jets Offense: The Steelers may have an even bigger problem defensively than the Jets do. They could be missing their best defensive player, Troy Polamalu as well as James Harrison for the second straight week. There is a possibility that at least one of them, and maybe both, will play but it's not likely. The good thing is that Ryan Clark will be back this week but without Polamalu, the defense is going to be very conventional.

It is hard to read what the Jets are going to look like just because it is hard to take anything away from their first game. The Bills are a really bad team so the Jets were able to do whatever they wanted. But what do we know? They are going to be balanced offensively and maybe even lean more towards the run. It will be a steady dose of Shonn Greene since for all intents and purposes, their second running back is Tim Tebow. The question is whether or not Greene can carry that workload. He had 94 yards last week but he also fumbled twice which could be a problem since they also have a quarterback that likes giving the ball to the other team.

The Bills are awful but Mark Sanchez did look fantastic last week. He seems to like Stephen Hill as a new threat at the wide receiver position. For him, that's a necessity because he needs someone other than Santonio Holmes to throw the ball to, especially since Dustin Keller isn't going to play in this game. Obviously, the easiest way to make Sanchez look like Sanchez is to make him uncomfortable. But if they don't get any pressure on him, he is capable of putting together three straight touchdown drives just like the Broncos did last week.

Prediction: The Jets slapped a lot of their critics in the face last week while the Steelers provided their fans with a lot more questions than answers. That being said, I'm not worried about the Jets at all. They are a circus sideshow. The beat one of the worst teams in the conference. Hooray. All injuries considered, all the problems from last week considered, I think this is a game that needs to be a win. Steelers 27, Jets 13

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