After coming off a much-needed bye week, the Pittsburgh Steelers will spend this week preparing for their biggest game of the season thus far. With a record of 1-2, to say that this game is a must-win is an understatement.
Pittsburgh definitely needs this win just to stay within striking distance of Baltimore and Cincinnati for a shot at the division crown. It looks as if the Ravens and Bengals may have easy wins coming their way this week with matchups against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins respectively.
The Steelers will have to do everything that they can to get a victory at home versus the 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles. Hopefully the return of running back Rashard Mendenhall, safety Troy Polamalu, and linebacker James Harrison will reenergize Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, Pittsburgh’s passing game has been potent, but the running game has been stuck in the mud. Having Mendenhall on the field for the first time this season should help the Steelers’ ineffective running game versus an Eagles defense that is giving up an average of less than 100 rushing yards per game (91.5 to be exact).
The staple of Pittsburgh’s team, the defense, will greatly benefit the return of two former NFL Defensive Player of the Year recipients in Harrison and Polamalu. Harrison will draw attention away from fellow linebacker LaMarr Woodley, which would generate a much more effective pass rush. In the secondary, Polamalu’s ball-hawking skills will give the Steelers a much better chance of adding to their one interception on the year.
By far, this Week 5 battle against the Eagles will be the most important game of the season for Pittsburgh. Having recuperation time for ailing players and Pro Bowl-caliber players back in the lineup couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
Being in arguably the toughest division in the league, the Steelers have very little margin for error. This week’s game could be considered a “panic button game,” and if some how Pittsburgh comes away with another loss, then it will be time to panic.
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