Week 15 will bring a matchup between two teams that are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to momentum. The Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled, losing three of their last four games, while the Dallas Cowboys have won four of their last five contests.
Both teams have identical records of 7-6, and are fighting for their right to play in the postseason. The Steelers desperately need this victory in order to keep the final AFC wildcard spot for another week. As for the Cowboys, a win this week, along with losses by a few NFC teams, will potentially boost them into a wildcard spot in the conference.
Dallashas had the reputation of not playing well in the month of December. However, they did get off to a good start for the month with victories over the last two weeks. Unlike the Cowboys, Pittsburgh has split the two games that they have played this month so far.
The Cowboys and the Steelers both have inconsistent running games, and both have quarterbacks that are elusive enough to avoid a pass rush. This game will definitely come down to who has the better defense and the better passing game.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been the team’s consistent bright spot all season long and will only go as far as he’ll take them. As for the Cowboys, quarterback Tony Romo will have to deal with Pittsburgh’s number-one ranked defense, albeit minus Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor.
Roethlisberger and his offensive line will have their hands full with Dallas’ 10th ranked pass rush led by All-Pro linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Even though the Steelers sack numbers have been relatively low this season, they are starting to come on late in the season, especially linebacker James Harrison.
However, I think that the x-factor of the game will be Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. With Taylor out of the Steelers’ lineup, Pittsburgh’s secondary is a bit suspect. That was evident in their loss to the San Diego Chargers last week. If Bryant plays as well as he has in recent weeks, then Dallas should escape with a close victory. The only question is his ability to play with a broken finger.
With both teams in dire need for a win this week, I expect to see a fight to the finish. I think the winning momentum that Dallas has, in addition to playing at home, will put them over the top in this Week 15 battle.
Prediction: Cowboys 20, Steelers 17
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