Week nine is officially here, and with it, the Pittsburgh Steelers. A chance at the AFC North crown with a heavyweight bout at 1 p.m. EDT.
Jeff Hartman, Editor and Manager of Behind The Steel Curtain, and I both sent each other five questions about one anothers team in anticipation. Below will be the entire interview, and be sure to check out BTSC for all news on the Steelers.
1. Needing to address the obvious, is Ben Roethlisberger playing on Sunday in your opinion?
Roethlisberger is officially listed as questionable, which is the new probable, which can be mighty confusing for a lot of people. Long story short, barring a setback to his injured left knee, expect to see Big Ben under center at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday.
2. How confident are you in this Steelers team? One week they look like world-beaters, the next they get blown out by Miami.
I'm still very confident in this team. People laughed at the Eagles and Dolphins losses at the time, but the Eagles are a contender in the NFC, while the Dolphins proved their win, and rushing success, was much more than just a one week thing against Pittsburgh. Nonetheless, the Steelers, when healthy, are still a very dangerous team. In their three losses, they were missing key pieces of their overall puzzle. Whether it was Ryan Shazier, Le'Veon Bell, or Ben Roethlisberger, there was always someone missing from the lineup who is called upon to be a key component of the team's success. Coming off the bye week they will be as close to 100-percent healthy since they started the season...good news for the team in the second half of the season.
3. If you could steal one player from the Ravens and add to the Steelers roster who would it be? Why?
Marshall Yanda, and I don't have to think twice about it. This isn't a knock on a player like Suggs, but Yanda is one of the best at his position. He, from the guard position, can completely dominate a game and help open up gaping holes for running backs. I have always admired Yanda from an opponent standpoint, and that is why I would take Yanda in this scenario.
4. What are the basic strengths and weaknesses of the Steelers offense and defense?
For the Steelers offense the strengths would be simple, get the ball to your playmakers. Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates should be a big part of the team's game plan every week, and to have a multitude of players who can make plays is certainly a strength. The weakness of the offense will be the quarterback position this Sunday. If Roethlisberger plays, which I think he will, he hasn't been very good coming off an injury in recent years. If, for some reason, Landry Jones is the starter, well then the offense runs through Landry Jones...a weakness.
As for the defense, the strength would be their inside linebackers. Ryan Shazier (when healthy) and Lawrence Timmons are still very good at what they do, and a strength of the defense, but the weaknesses are numerous. Without Cam Heyward in the lineup the past two games, Pittsburgh has been gashed by the run. When Heyward was in the lineup, they were gashed through the air. The Steelers defense has been a roller coaster ride on a week-to-week basis...lack of consistency is certainly a weakness.
5. These Steelers-Ravens matchups are always a 'last possession wins' type of game. How do you see this contest playing out?
I know I am in the minority in this theory, but I think the Steelers are due for a get right game. Similar to their game against the Chiefs after their Week 3 loss to the Eagles, Pittsburgh is healthy and pissed off. The Ravens will likely keep the game close in the first half, but I think the Steelers put the pedal down in the second half to pull away. At the same time, if it was a 3-point game which could go either way I wouldn't be shocked in the least.