Sunday, September 21, 2014

Game Day 3: Steelers at Carolina Panthers

There is no reason the Steelers should not win this game. The only thing stopping the Steelers is themselves.

That, and a lack of talent at several key positions. No, seriously, the Steelers should win tonight's game against the South/North Carolina Panthers. Of course, though, should win in one thing. Actual winning is something else.

The Steelers are 17-17 over their past 34 games. The Panthers have gone 13-1 in their past 14 games.

The Carolina defense has played well in that span, surrendering an average of 14.6 points per game and helping the team to a +17 turnover differential. On offense, the Panthers haven't turned the ball over this season.

Kelvin Benjamin 
On offense, the Panthers rely heavily on tight end Greg Olson, who has the ability to torture the Steelers in the same manner Owen Daniels did in Baltimore. Olson leads the Panthers with 14 receptions for an 11.2 yards-per-catch average.

Then, too, there's 6'5" rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who poses a potential matchup problem for the Steelers' corners. Benjamin has a 17.3 yard average on eight receptions in two games.

To thwart the Panthers' offense, the Black 'n Gold Defense must do two things they haven't done well at all lately: Force turnovers and sack the quarterback. The defense has generated no turnovers this season and has just three sacks.

Last week, Carolina's opponent, the Detroit Lions sacked quarterback Cam Newton five times, but Newton didn't turn the ball over in leading the Panthers to a convincing 24-7 win. Newton was an efficient 22-of-34 passing for 284 yards and one touchdown.

On the other side of the ball, the Panthers' defense forced three Detroit turnovers. Pittsburgh right tackle Marcus Gilbert will have his hands full with a mobile, fast and aggressive rotation of defensive ends and linebackers coming at him. How well he holds up will be one key to this game.

If Gilbert does his job, and if the Steelers protect the ball on offense and force turnovers on defense, the Steelers should win this game.

That sounds like a lot of "ifs," but Joey Porter's Pit Bulls are calling it: The Steelers win this game.

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