Friday, November 13, 2009

Looking Forward to Sunday's Game: Reasons for Optimism

Reasons for Optimism? Troy, for one.

Troy Polamalu missed the first game against Cincinnati. There's no way the Bengals march down the field on that decisive 16-play, 71-yard drive in the final minutes. Sixteen plays! Not with Troy on the field.

Also on defense, Lawrence Timmons returns to the lineup. Keyaron Fox has played great in his absence, however, so that's not as big a deal as Troy being back in the lineup. Perhaps more importantly, count on Dick LeBeau having some new tricks up his sleeve.

Plus, we're at home.
  • It should be interesting to see how the Heinz Field turf holds up for this 1 p.m. Sunday matchup ... occurring just after Saturday night's Pitt-Notre Dame matchup, which begins at 8 p.m.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Steelers' offensive line is playing at a very high level, with Max Starks nullifying two of the NFL's best defensive ends (Jared Allen and Elvis Dumerville) the past two games.

Granted, Cincinnati's defense has been playing great -- having stuffed Baltimore's offense last Sunday. The Steelers have so many more weapons at receiver than Baltimore, however -- so that should help counter the one-on-one matchups the Bengals hope to play with their cornerbacks, Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall.

It's worth noting Rashard Mendenhall didn't play in the game at Cincinnati. Willie Parker started at running back, and Joey Porter's Pit Bulls are convinced Parker wasn't healthy. It's no secret he had a hamstring problem during training camp, and possibly something else (turf toe?).

Also on the replacement front: Mike Wallace has emerged as the No. 3 receiver in place of Limas Sweed, who dropped a touchdown pass in Cincinnati. Wallace makes that catch. 'Nuff said about that.

Granted, the Steelers are going to have to play their best: The Bengals have a much more balanced attack than the Broncos. Nevertheless, for the aforementioned reasons -- Troy, Lebeau, Mendenhall, Starks & Co., home field -- Joey Porter's Pit Bulls are cautiously optimistic the Steelers will win on Sunday and take over first place in the AFC North.

We wouldn't give the seven points, though.

Footnotes & Addenda
  • After watching last Sunday's game in Denver and last night's Bears-49ers game, it's worth asking: Who would you rather not have at quarterback, Kyle Orton or Jay Cutler? Sheesh. How did the Steelers ever lose to the Bears? Oh, yeah, that's right: Jeff Reed (Drunko). Missed two field goals. Still.
  • The NFL Has fined Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco $20,000 for "offering" a $1 bill (in fun) to attempt to "bribe" an official last Sunday. Who didn't see that fine coming? Shutdown Corner's MJD has the best take on this:
"The fact that the NFL levied a fine isn't surprising. This is a league that devotes pages in its rulebook to regulate how much players can celebrate after scoring a touchdown, so that it showed no sense of humor was to be expected. ...

"As for paying off the fine, Ochocinco should totally send a box full of 20,000 ones to the NFL offices. If he needs help getting that large an amount of bills, I'm sure he can get Pacman Jones' phone number pretty easily."

No comments: