The Pittsburgh Steelers open the 2016 NFL Season on the road in the Nation’s Capitol as the Washington Redskins host.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers 0-0 at Washington Redskins 0-0
Where: FedEx Field Landover, MD
When: Monday September 12th 710am ET Kickoff
Weather: Temps will reach low 90’s during the day but should be high 70s/low 80s by kickoff. Wind less than 10mph.
Line: Steelers -3
TV: ESPN Sean McDonaugh and Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters on the sideline.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Rabble TV: We are Live! Listen to Matt and I broadcast the game at rabble.tv.
Key Injuries: PIT: Markus Wheaton, Cody Wallace, Roosevelt Nix and Senquez Golson are all ‘OUT.’
Final 2015 NFL Ranks : Redskins 17th total offense (20th Rushing/ 11th Passing)/ 28th total defense (26th Rushing/ 25th Passing)… Steelers 3rd total offense (16th Rushing/3rd Passing)/21st total defense (5th Rushing/30th Passing)
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 1-0, Cincinnati 1-0, Pittsburgh 0-0, Cleveland 0-1
What You Need to Know: The Steelers and Redskins play for the third time ever on Monday Night Football and Pittsburgh won both of the prior meetings in 1973 and 2008… Since 1970, the Steelers are 3-1 when they open the season on MNF… Ben Roethlisberger is three touchdown passes away from 275. He would become the 13th player in history to reach that milestone… Antonio Brown needs 12 catches to pass John Stallworth for sixth on the Steelers’ all-time receptions’ list… James Harrison needs three sacks to surpass Jason Gildon as the all-time sack leader in Steelers’ history… The Steelers have won 43 times on MNF and that ranks them third all-time.
What’s at Stake: A 1-0 start goes a long way as most teams who start 1-0 increase their chances of making the postseason significantly.
All-Time Series: Redskins lead 42-32-3… the Steelers have won the last five in the series.
Series Highs: Passing: PIT Terry Bradshaw 311 yards/1979, WAS Doug Williams 430 yards/ 1988… Rushing: PIT Jerome Bettis 134 yards/1997, WAS Ricky Ervins 84 yards/1991… Receiving: PIT Buddy Dial 187 yards/1960, WAS Bobby Mitchell 218 yards/1963
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Run Heavy, Run Often… The Redskins were near the bottom last year in rushing defense while the Steelers, who had to use DeAngelo Williams for much of the season still ranked 16th in rushing. With that same scenario in place now, look for heavy doses of Williams early much like the Steelers did last year when they opened at New England. With all of the weapons in the passing game that will be there regardless, look for Todd Haley to go to the run early and make throwing the ball (hopefully with some play-action) a lot easier.
Pressure, Pressure and… More Pressure… I was impressed last season with the amount of blitzing that Keith Butler did in his first year with the Steelers. This year will be just as interesting to watch especially with Bud Dupree sidelined for much of the season. Relying on James Harrison, Jarvis Jones, Arthur Moats and Anthony Chickillo for consistent, edge pressure probably isn’t the best idea. Butler knows his duo of Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward can push the pocket from the interior but how will he create the pressure from outside?
Rookies Will Need to Play Well the First Time Out. If the things happen as we’ve been hearing over the last few days, then rookies Sean Davis, Artie Burns and Javon Hargrave may all need to have big games in order for the Steelers to win. Davis could find himself locked up on Redskins’ tight end Jordan Reed while Artie Burns could find himself across the line of scrimmage from DeSean Jackson. Those two will need to limit big plays and will need to tackle well. For Hargrave, his gap-shooting skills will be needed to offset potential losses in pressure from the edge with Bud Dupree out.
Prediction: The Steelers have lost four of their lost five season opening games with three of those coming on the road. Over that time, Ben Roethlisberger has been relatively average in those games. With those two things in mind, a weak secondary and unproven receivers outside of Brown, I have trouble seeing the Steelers win this one.
Washington 23 Pittsburgh 20