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Steelers next three games will define their season

The only criticism that can be used on the Pittsburgh Steelers this season is their strength of schedule so far.  Their opponents have a combined nine wins between the five teams.    The schedule going into this season wasn’t very strong to begin with, now those expected bad teams are actually worse. The Steelers next three games are crucial if they expect to stay in the running for the number one seed in the AFC. 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers schedule review

Things are going to change for this team in terms of schedule.  Pittsburgh is about to go on a three game road adventure that starts this Sunday with the 5-0 Tennessee Titans.  Next is a trip to the 5-1 Ravens, before finishing off against the Cowboys in Dallas.  This is by far the toughest stretch of the season for the Steelers.   How this team does in these three games could very well define their season.   Let’s preview these three contests:

Week 7  vs Titans:

What we have here is a colossal matchup between the last two undefeated teams in the AFC.  When it comes to the Tennessee Titans one name comes to mind more than any other…..Derrick Henry.  The massive Titans running back is once again leading the NFL in rushing with 588 yards.  The Titans offense revolves around him, and the play action passing game that his success brings.

Speaking of passing, Ryan Tannehill is having a fantastic season of his own.  He is third overall in quarterback rating this season with 13 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.  Tennessee’s  offense will be a formidable test for the Steelers.  

The Titans defense is another story all together.  This is where Pittsburgh a distinct  advantage.  The Titans defense is ranked 26th in the league in yards allowed so far in 2020.  Keep in mind that have not played any exceptional offensive teams so far, making that number looks even worse.  https://www.espn.com/nfl/stats/team/_/view/defense/table/passing/sort/netYardsPerGame/dir/asc

The Steelers would do well by jumping out to an early lead, thereby taking the run game out of the Titans equation on offense.  A win in Tennessee would go a long way with tie-breakers in the AFC Playoff race, not to mention maintain the lead in the division.

Week 8 vs Ravens:

What more can we say about the Steelers/Ravens rivalry?   Another year, another epic battle for AFC North supremacy.  The ramifications for the entire AFC playoff picture are enormous with this game as well.  There is now only one bye per conference in the new NFL playoff format. That makes this game all the more important, as if these two teams needed another reason to go at it.  https://www.nbcsports.com/philadelphia/eagles/nfl-playoff-format-changed-2020-season 

This is where the Devin Bush injury becomes especially concerning.  Not only for his speed to help chase around Lamar Jackson, but also in covering tight ends.  The Ravens offense revolves around play action passes to their tight ends.  Mark Andrews in particular could have a field day against the team’s slower inside linebackers.  How the Steelers coach around this problem will be the key to this game.

Week 9 vs Cowboys:

The Steelers catch a huge break here with the injury to Dak Prescott.  Instead they get old friend Andy Dalton when they visit Dallas.  This is still a team with dangerous weapons on offense however.  Players like Zeke Elliott, Amari Cooper, and rookie CeeDee Lamb will be a test for the Steelers defense.

The Cowboys defense on the other hand is not good at all.  They are in fact the worst team in the league in terms of yards allowed.  Dallas is averaging a whopping 464 yards given up per game.  With this defense, and the injury at quarterback, this should be by far the easiest of the Steelers next three games.

We are about to find out just how good the Pittsburgh Steelers really are.  The next three games include two of the best teams in the NFL, plus a road game against the dangerous Cowboys.  Pittsburgh can silence any doubters with a successful road trip here, and go a long way towards securing the number one seed in the AFC.  We may look back at this three week stretch as the games that catapulted the Steelers to a Super Bowl run in 2020.

 

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