Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! This is your one stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a Game Preview, the Steeler’s Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Fantasy Football Impact, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, and the latest Injury Report. Heck, you even get the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
STEELERS LOOK TO REBOUND AFTER DISASTER IN CLEVELAND
Raise your hand if you’ve seen this movie before…
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers have a brutal game, in which they lose to a bad team. They look inept and like a just thrown together Midget football squad with no discipline or semblance of how to play the game. The media and fans berate them and leave them for dead. Roethlisberger is finished and old.
Then the following game they go out and throttle the next opponent.
My hand is raised, and I’m not fooled.
Yes, the Steelers blew a 21-7 4th quarter lead to the Browns with just barley seven minutes left…and the ball. But James Conner’s fumble turned around the momentum, as did the ridiculous 12 penalties for 116 yards and six total turnovers in a messy downpour. It all added up to a brutal 21-21 tie instead of a sure victory.
Now it’s time to learn from the mistakes, and move on. This Sunday brings the Kansas City Chiefs to the Heinz Field home opener, and the Steelers are prepared to play the type of football they are accustomed to.
It won’t be easy, as Roethlisberger is nursing a sore elbow, and both CB Joe Haden and Guard David DeCastro are likely out. Le’Veon Bell remains a no-show.
Still, if past history proves anything, this team usually bounces back in big fashion as the Chiefs found out a few years ago.
“It is upsetting,” tackle Alejandro Villanueva said. “When you come up with a performance like Sunday, and you don’t get that win against a team you thought you could potentially beat (with a lead) going into the fourth quarter.”
“You never overreact after one game,” Villanueva said. “It’s very early in the season. It’s common NFL knowledge that you want to play your best football towards the end of the year.”
James Conner was exceptional, minus the lost fumble, in his starting debut with the Steelers. He ran for 135 yards, added five catches for 57 yards, and scored twice. Big Ben still has Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith Schuster as his main receiving weapons, and looks to have another viable commodity in tight end Vance McDonald ready to go as well.
The Steelers will have to be on par defensively, especially in the secondary will Haden out. Someone is going to have to step up big time and slow down the production of Tyreek Hill, who has turned into one of the NFL’s most dangerous receivers.
Cameron Sutton if up to the challenge if called upon in Haden’s absence.
“You expect the ball to come to you every play,” Sutton said. “It’s not just because I’m a backup cornerback or come in the game at a certain point in time. I feel like everyone on the field should expect the ball to come their way if you want to make plays. When you’re out there, you have to expect it.”
Sutton’s fellow teammates believe in his abilities, too.
“Cam has prepared himself for moments like this, where he can showcase that he deserves to be out there to get a chance,” safety Sean Davis said. “The Browns tested him. That’s what happens in the NFL. He lost his first battle but came back and won the second one. That’s what’s expected of him. I’m confident in Cam Sutton.”
Both Davis and Sutton will have their hands full with Hill.
“(Yards after catch) is going to be a big point of emphasis for us this week,” Davis said. “Tackle the catch. As a defense, we do a good job of minimizing their special talents. The guys we know that are problem makers.”
Tight End Travis Kelce was quiet last week vs the Chargers, but head coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t expect that trend to continue very long.
“He didn’t get a lot of touches last week. I don’t think that’s reflective of his role within this year’s group,” Tomlin said. “As a matter of fact, I imagine that’ll intensify his exposure to us this week.”
Steelers Keys To Victory
- Get Big Ben Into A Rythym
- Utilize Conner In Both Running and Passing Game
- NO TURNOVERS!
- Contain Tyreek Hill
- Pressure Patrick Mahomes
- Keep Kareem Hunt Quiet
Worried about Big Ben playing Sunday?
The Steelers aren’t.
“You guys know Ben is Superman,” offensive lineman Ramon Foster said. “If he can, he’s going to give it a go.”
Center Maurkice Pouncey agreed.
“He looked really good,” Pouncey said. “I was just telling the guys no matter if he had practiced or not, you know how tough he is and the things he plays through, he’s motivated to get back out there for sure.”
As did Antonio Brown, who looks to continue putting up big numbers, as he did last week vs the Browns with nine receptions for 93 yards and a score.
“He’s a competitor,” added Brown. “Anytime there’s a chance he’s going to be out there, you know he’s going to be out there. Ben is the best in the world. I don’t know why you guys seem to doubt him. He’s not average. He’s not a regular person. He’s not ordinary. He’s extraordinary. You have to accept the fact that he’s different.
“He’s a difference-maker. I’m just excited to play with him in the midst of our adversity and the midst of our challenge. I think he’ll respond well.”
If Ben does come out with any injuries, the team if confident in back-up Josh Dobbs,
“If Ben feels like he’s OK, then we’re going to roll,” Foster said. “If he’s not, Josh is capable of getting the job done. Coach Randy [Fichtner] is smart enough to put Josh in the right situations.”
“We’re a group that’s been together for so long,” Foster continued. “There have been times we’ve played with Michael Vick. There have been times we’ve played with Landry Jones. Up front, we have to adjust. If Ben’s playing, it’s easier. If Josh is back there, we have to protect him the same.”
It’s the home opener, and both the crowd and the Steelers will be jazzed up for business.
The Steelers offense should have no problems putting up points against a porous Chief’s defense. The biggest concern are the injuries that are already mounting up, but all NFL teams have to deal with that problem eventually. This is a must-win game for the Steelers, who would like to prove last week was a fluke. No team wants to start the season without a win in their first two games, especially a team that has Super Bowl aspirations as this team does have.
The Chiefs also face the daunting task of heading to and from from Los Angeles in their first game, all the way to Pittsburgh for game #2.
Sunday’s matchup will be the 35th regular-season meeting between the teams. The Steelers lead the all-time series 23-11, also winning seven of the last eight.
That trend will continue this year.
Steelers 38 Chiefs 20
NFL Week 2
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Kansas City Chiefs
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Kickoff: Sunday, September 16th, at 1:00 pm
TV: CBS (KDKA-TV) | Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Dan Fouts (analysts) | Evan Washburn (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM/970 WBGG-AM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: ESPN Radio | Announcers: Sean Kelley (play-by-play) Dusty Dvoracek (analyst)
Weather at Kickoff: 79 and sunny!
Vegas Line: Steelers -5.5
- Series History: Series began in 1970
- The Steelers are 22-10 in the overall Regular Season series against the Chiefs
- Steelers are 11-4 at Home vs the Chiefs
- Streak: Steelers won previous two meetings
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Oct. 15, 2017, at Kansas City (Pittsburgh 19 Kansas City 13)
- Steelers are 1-1 in the Post-Season vs the Chiefs
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 15, 2017, at Kansas City (Pittsburgh 18 Kansas City 16) – AFC Divisional Playoff
- The Steelers would earn their 100th regular-season victory at Heinz Field since the stadium opened in 2001, with a win against Kansas City on Sunday.
- Pittsburgh aims to improve to 16-2 in regular-season home openers at Heinz Field since the stadium opened in 2001.
- Ben Roethlisberger, with a win, would improve to 7-1 vs. Kansas City in the regular season as a starter and to 5-0 at home against the Chiefs.
- Roethlisberger needs 76 passing yards to surpass John Elway (51,475) for seventh-most in NFL history.
- Antonio Brown needs three touchdown catches to tie John Stallworth (63) for the third-most scoring receptions in franchise history.
- Brown, with 100 catches in 2018, will become the first player in NFL history to record 100 or more receptions in six consecutive years.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster is three touchdown receptions shy of 10 in his NFL career.
- T.J. Watt needs four sacks to reach 15 in his NFL career.
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
- Overall Record: 0-0-1
- Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (12th Season with Steelers)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 116-60-1 (.658)
- Playoff Record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)
- 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Roster
- Steelers Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Game: Steelers 21 Browns 21
Scouting the Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger is looking to have one his best seasons yet. Big Ben’s big arm, along with his uncanny ability to slip out of the pocket and extend plays makes him one one of the league’s best.
Le’Veon Bell is one of the league’s best backs. He is dynamic in both running and catching the ball out of the backfield, but until he signs his contract and reports to the team… who cares? James Conner is more than capable of shouldering a starters share of carries. He has slimmed down and has added speed and quickness to an already powerful running style. Jaylen Samuels is an H-Back type of player that can line up all over the field. He is especially dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. Steven Ridley is a capable runner that can be counted upon on an as needed basis.
What more can you say about Antonio Brown? He is the league’s best wide receiver. His dedication and drive to be the best is unmatched by any player in the league. JuJu Smith-Schuster heads into his 2nd season and looks to make even more of an impact than he made as a rookie. Speaking of rookies, James Washington was a Camp favorite of Roethlisberger, and could quickly establish himself as a dangerous weapon in the slot as the 3rd receiver. Justin Hunter is a nice deep threat. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams. Ryan Switzer will see time in the pasing game at times, but his value is best used in the return game.
Jesse James is reliable as ever. Vance McDonald is looking to make a big impact in his 2nd year as a Steeler, looking to build off a 10-catch, 112-yard day in a postseason loss to the Jaguars. Xavier Grimble provides a big target for Roethlisberger in the Red Zone.
Up front, the Steelers deploy Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt as their defensive ends. In the middle, Javon Hargrave and Daniel McCullers will rotate. Tyson Alualu and Kameron Canaday will see time at defensive end as well. L.T. Walton can play all three spots.
The linebacker unit goes Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt on the outside, with Vince Williams and Jon Bostic in the middle. Anthony Chickillo and Matthew Thomas back-up Dupree and Watt, while L.J. Fort and Tyler Matakevich are reserves in the middle.
In the secondary, Artie Burns and Joe Haden are the starters at cornerback. Backing them up will be Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, and Coty Sensabaugh. Rookie Terrell Edmunds starts at strong safety, with Morgan Burnett backing him up and seeing plenty of action in nickle and dime formations. Sean Davis is the starter yet again at free safety, with Nat Berhe and Marcus Allen as reserves.
- Ben Roethlisberger (335 yards passing | 1 TD passes | 3 interceptions | 4 sacks | 16 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- James Conner (135 yards rushing | 2 rushing TD’s | 5 receptions | 57 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jaylen Samuels (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Stevan Ridley (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Roosevelt Nix (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Antonio Brown (9 receptions | 93 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Juju Smith-Schuster (5 receptions | 119 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- James Washington (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Ryan Switzer (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Justin Hunter (1 receptions | 6 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Darrius Heyward-Bey (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jesse James 3 receptions | 60 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Vance McDonald (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Xavier Grimble (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 3-3 | FG: 0-1 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 0-1 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: N/A)
A look at the Kansas City Chiefs!
- Overall Record: 1-0
- Head Coach: Andy Reid (6th Season with Chiefs)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 184-12-1 (.605) | 54-27 (.667) with Chiefs
- Playoff Record: 11-13 (Qualified for playoffs 13 times)
- 2018 Kansas City Chiefs Roster
- Kansas City Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: Chiefs 38 Chargers 28
Scouting the Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes has a big arm and plenty of weapons to play with in Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Kareem Hunt. Oh, there’s that tight end of his… Travis Kelce.
Kareem Hunt started off his career on fire but has since tapered off. He was quiet last week and the Steelers hope it stays that way in week 2.
Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins give the Chiefs world class speed in the passing game. Hill has utilized all of his talents while Watkins has not. Chris Conley has capable hands and is a nice slot option.
Travis Kelce is one of the best in the game, but was notoriously quiet last week with just one catch for six yards.
Beatable, especially through the air. Phillip Rivers lit up the Chiefs secondary for 424 yards passing and three touchdowns. The Chargers added 123 yards on the ground to boot.
- Patrick Mahomes (256 yards passing | 4 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 1 sacks | 21 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Kareem Hunt (49 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Spencer Ware (32 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 1 receptions | 8 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Tyreek Hill (7 receptions | 169 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Sammy Watkins (3 receptions | 21 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Chris Conley (1 receptions | 15 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- De’Anthony Thomas (1 receptions | 1 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Travis Kelce (1 receptions | 6 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Harrison Butker (Extra Point: 5-5 | FG: 0-0 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 1-1 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 45)
Steelers – Chiefs: Offense vs Defense Match-Up
- Steelers Offense: Steelers average 494 YPG | Chiefs defense allows 541 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers average 139 YPG | Chiefs defense allows 123 YPG
- Passing: Steelers average 335 YPG | Chiefs defense allows 418 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers average 21 PPG | Chiefs defense allows 28 PPG
- Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 327 YPG | Chiefs offense averages 362 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers allow 177 YPG | Chiefs offense averages 106 YPG
- Passing: Steelers allow 150 YPG | Chiefs offense averages 256 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers allow 21 PPG | Chiefs offense averages 38 PPG
Injury Report (9/14/2018)
- Out: RB Le’Veon Bell (Contract)
- Doubtful: CB Joe Haden (Hamstring), G David DeCastro (Hand), DE Tyson Alualu (Shoulder)
- Questionable: QB Ben Roethlisberger (Rt. Elbow), CB Artie Burns (Toe), TE Vance McDonald (Foot), DE Cameron Heyward (Knee)
Kansas City Chiefs
- Out: LB Ben Niemann (Hamstring)
- Doubtful: S Eric Berry (Heel)
- Questionable: None
Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 9 @ Philadelphia W, 31-14 (KDKA)
Thursday, Aug. 16 @ Green Bay L, 51-34 (KDKA)
Saturday, Aug. 25 TENNESSEE W, 16-6 (KDKA/NFL Network)
Thursday, Aug. 30 CAROLINA W, 39-24 (KDKA)
REGULAR SEASON (0-0-1)
Sunday, Sept. 9 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. (CBS) | TIE 21-21
Sunday, Sept. 16 KANSAS CITY 1 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Sept. 24 @ Tampa Bay 8:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Sept. 30 BALTIMORE 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Oct. 7 ATLANTA* 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sunday, Oct. 14 @ Cincinnati* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 21 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Oct. 28 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Nov. 4 @ Baltimore* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Thursday, Nov. 8 CAROLINA 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Nov. 18 @ Jacksonville* 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 25 @ Denver* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 2 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 9 @ Oakland* 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 16 NEW ENGLAND* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 23 @ New Orleans* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 30 CINCINNATI* 1 p.m. (CBS)
* – Times may change due to flexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 5-6 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 12-13 Divisional Playoff Games
Sunday, Jan. 20 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 27 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 3 Super Bowl LIII (Atlanta, Ga.)
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
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As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL Football.
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