Week 3 takes the Steelers back to Tampa and Raymond James Stadium where they won ring number 6.Â This time though, they will be facing a youthful Tampa Bay team – rebuilding so to speak.
Tampa QB Josh Freeman has seen some early success this season and in his second year has a QB rating of 95.Â Freeman, rookie receiver Mike Williams, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and corner Aqib Talib are all under 25 – extremely young, but definitely a team to not take lightly.Â Their defense is ranked right behind the Steelers allowing just 10.5 opp/ppg.
The Steelers offense needs to be ready for the young, hungry defense.Â The Bucs haven’t been 2-0 at the start of the season since 2005 and they have a rough schedule coming up with the Ravens, the Bengals and the Saints.Â The Steelers are just stop one for them and they need a win for confidence as the season goes on.Â To win, though, Tampa would have to take advantage of the Steelers current management style offense and I’m just not sure they are at that level yet.Â Coach Raheem Morris is certainly building a great young team, however, it’s likely just not their year. Yet.
With veteran Charlie Batch under center, and Rashard Mendenhall likely to see a lot of the ball today, it’s not likely the Bucs can do too much – even if they shut down the run, there’s second year standout Mike Wallace and veterans Hines Ward and Heath Miller as targets for Batch.Â Plus, the Bucs have played the Browns and the Panthers – I don’t want to discount their 2-0 status, but neither of those teams are the Steelers.Â At least not this year’s Steelers.
Along the same lines, the Bus haven’t seen a defense anything like the Steelers defense.Â As we’ve seen, the mighty LeBeau creates schemes specifically to confuse even the most seasoned quarterbacks in the league. Freeman is in for a long day, unfortunately for him.Â Woodley and last week’s Defensive Player of the Week James Harrison are crazy fierce pass rushers – if you don’t believe that, look at film from last week’s Titans/Steelers game.
On average, the Steelers have allowed about 50 rushing yards per game.Â Hopefully, that’s not enough for the Bucs today.Â In fact, if you have Cadillac Williams on your fantasy team, that’s not a good pick today.Â He’s averaged just 2.6 yards per carry which is lowest among the Leagues top rushers.Â Sit him today fantasy players.Â I expect veteran TE Kellen Winslow to be Freeman’s top target, he had 83 yards receiving against the Panthers last week, but Troy Polamalu will be there to limit much of that action today as well.Â In other words, expect this to be a long, boring defensive game.Â That’s my favoriate type of game, but I know many of you like the air it out high scoring games.Â Tampa and Steelers isn’t that game.
I certainly hope the Steelers don’t take the Bucs defense lightly and have planned effectively and come out to play tough.Â At the same time, I expect special teams and the Steelers defense to carry the game – as they likely will until Ben gets back.Â After today, we’re one week closer to our franchise QB coming back.Â So far, we’re holding it down with what we have, focusing on strengths (defense) and managing the offense.
Let’s go Steelers. Stay focused and let’s get one more win in this week.