I’m jumpin’ on a plane tomorrow and heading to Chicago for the game at Soldier Field on Sunday. I’m sure I won’t be the only Steelers fan in the crowd waving a terrible towel – because, as we know, Steeler Nation travels well.
I hope to see a much improved game from last week – from both teams.
From the Steelers, I hope to see a little less tentativeness and more cohesiveness. Â The game against the Titans started sloppy at best and ended on a wing and a prayer. Â The O-line needs to help create gaps so we can see if there is a run game to even discuss and analyze, or do the Steelers need to think long and hard about starting Mewelde Moore and finding room for Isaac Redman (yes I love that kid) or just rely on passing to win.
The defense started off as a one-man show last week – the Polamalu show – and ended with Troy being out a few weeks with a knee sprain. Â That said, the Steelers are 6-2 with Carter filling in for Troy. Â The defense will depend on Harrison, Woodley, Aaron Smith and Big Snack jumping in to do their part to shut down Matt Forte who will likely be Cutler’s go to guy on the field. Last week against the Titans, the Steelers hurried the QB approximately 20 times, a key to their success. After all, not every QB is as good outside the pocket and on the fly as Big Ben.
The Steelers, however, Â should not discount Cutler’s talent. Â Two seasons ago, when he played the Steelers for Denver, he was 22 of 49 for 248 yards and 3 TDs – and 2 picks. Â He is in a situation where he needs to show improvement. Â The Bears starting with an 0-2 record would be tough for them. Â And likely tough on Cutler’s ego – he was brought to Chicago to be a superstar, right? Â The Bears can’t make mistakes – they have to play with everything they have and feed off the home crowd excitement. The stats to date aren’t supportive of the Steelers at Soldier Field. In fact, of the last 12 games played in Chicago, the Bears won 11 of them.
While I think this will be a tough battle, I think the Steelers are the ultimate winners, despite those statistics. Â Ben’s playing and decision making improved to allow for what would have been a game winning drive at end of regulation (Hines fumble), and ultimately the drive in overtime to win the game. Â Overall, the pass protection looked pretty good and the run protection looked, well, average. Â This week, I think, will determine whether there’s a run game or not, and how the Steelers will deal with the results.
The other element is that Brian Urlacher will not be on the field. Â Sorry that he received a season ending wrist injury, but not so sorry that he won’t be on the field. Â In addition, the Bears have some issues in the secondary. Â But, the likely shining star on the Bears defense and someone who should not be forgotten is DE Adewale Ogunleye who had 2 of 4 sacks last week against the Packers. Even without Urlacher, their defense isn’t bad and the Steelers O-line must protect Ben to the best of their ability.
It’s time. Â The Steelers need to focus – and while everyone is still talking about how tough the schedule was last year, there is no easy game in the NFL (unless you are playing the Lions). The Bears won’t be an easy win and there are other tough games to play as well.
It’s time to bring it. Â I’ll be wearing my “lucky” # 43 jersey. Â It’s the same one I wore throughout the regular season last year. I’ve tested NOT wearing it and every time I wear another jersey the Steelers lose, so I am sticking with the good karma.
Steelers 24 Bears 20
Who do you think will win?