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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pittsburgh Steelers Season Opener Preview & Predictions

The Pittsburgh Steelers open their 2013 season as they host the Tennessee Titans at Heinz Field on Sunday September 8 1:00 pm EST. The Steelers who went 0 – 4 in the preseason, are one of only two teams to do so, the other being Atlanta. Chris Berman shared an interesting statistic on Sports Center yesterday, that since 1980 teams who went 0 – 4 in the preseason make the playoffs only 16% of the time. The Steelers have always enjoyed the underdog role, and they have great potential at many positions, however the trouble has been everyone showing up on the same day, consistently. Whether it was injury or mental errors (penalties) they could not seem to get it together in 2012. The Steelers lost five games by 3 points to some opponents who didn’t deserve to remain in the game. Pittsburgh has been known to allow lesser teams to hang around and either lose the game by a field goal, or they pull out an unnecessarily dramatic last second win.

The Steelers must either control the clock with a consistent run game or put themselves in a position to score every time they have the ball. I would like to see both happen, but if the preseason is any indication of where the offense is currently it may be some time before they get on the same page. That’s not to say that teams can’t get hot late in the season, but after a tepid 8 – 8 showing last year I believe it is imperative for this team’s emotional stability to set the tone early. The defense always shows up, and I do blame them for last second losses in 2012. They can only do so much. The offensive inability to strike has put too much responsibility on LeBeau’s squad.

As of Friday September 6 2:18 pm released news that rookie running back LeVeon Bell is ruled out for Sunday’s game. After the release of Jonathan Dwyer the ball carrying responsibilities go to Isaac Redman and LaRod Stephens-Howling, the latter looked great in the preseason. Heath Miller is listed as doubtful. Will Johnson, Jarvis Jones, and Brett Keisel are probable.

Tennessee has ruled out LB Zaviar Gooden. Quinn Johnson FB is doubtful. Akeem Ayers LB and Dave Stewart T are questionable. With Johnson unlikely to play due to a quad injury Tennessee will be short on FB, which is a better situation for Pittsburgh. Even though the Steelers contained Chris Johnson in previous meetings he remains a dangerously explosive runner, and taking a component away from that scenario is a positive for Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh lost a close game to Tennessee in October of last year and hopefully look to make up for that in front of the home crowd at Heinz Field on Sunday. If Pittsburgh is able to execute the run, control the clock, and dictate the tempo of the game I can see the Black & Gold open their 2013 season with a score of 31-16.

Here We Go Steelers

John Thomas Menesini
Senior Staff Writer
Football Extra Points

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