The Pittsburgh Steelers come into their home opener off a less than pretty 21-18 win. The Minnesota Vikings meanwhile were impressive in their home opening win over New Orleans. Everything that you need to know for this game is right here.
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What: Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 1pm Eastern on Sunday, September 17th, 2017
Weather: Sunny and 84 degrees, light winds.
Line: Steelers -5.5
Last Week: The Vikings won their home opener against New Orleans 29-19. The Steelers defeated Cleveland 21-19.
TV: FOX Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber and Kristina Pink on the Sidelines
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Key Injuries: MIN: OUT: None QUEST: Sam Bradford (knee), Anthony Barr (hamstring), Xavier Rhoades (hip) PIT: OUT: Jerald Hawkins (knee) QUEST: Stephon Tuitt (bicep), J.J. Wilcox (concussion), Vance McDonald (back) Game-Time Decisions will be updated when available. WILL UPDATE AS WARRANTED.
2017 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 19th MIN. 3rd Passing Offense: PIT 12th MIN 3rd Rushing Offense: PIT 29th MIN 5th
Total Defense: PIT 8th , MIN 15th Passing Defense: PIT 9th MIN 21st Rushing Defense: PIT 6th, MIN 8th
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 1-0, Pittsburgh 1-0, Cleveland 0-1, Cincinnati 0-2
What You Need to Know: T.J. Watt was the first Steeler since LaMarr Woodley to have two sacks and an INT in the same game… William Gay continued his streak of games played for active NFL defensive backs. He’s now up to 161 in a row… Ben Roethlisberger now ranks ninth all-time in passing yards in NFL history after passing Fran Tarkenton… David DeCastro has the 4th longest active streak in the league for guards with 57 straight starts.
What’s at Stake: With the Ravens hosting the Browns, a win over Minnesota may be necessary to stay atop the AFC North with Baltimore. For Minnesota, they need to keep pace with both Detroit and Green Bay who head into the weekend 1-0.
All-Time Series: Vikings lead 9-8. Steelers lead at home 5-4.
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 383yards Oct 29th, 2013, Vikings Brett Favre 334yards Oct 25th, 2009… RUSHING: Steelers Franco Harris 128yards Now 26th, 1972, Vikings Terry Allen 172yards Dec 20th, 1992… RECEIVING: Steelers Yancey Thigpen 141yards Sep 24th, 1995, Vikings Randy Moss 144yards Dec 22, 2001
Last Meeting: 2013. Minnesota 34 Pittsburgh 27 (Game played in Wembley Stadium, London)
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Flags Must Not Fly. The only flags I want to see flying on Sunday in Heinz Field are the ones that are supposed to be flying. Ya know? Old Glory? Steelers’ flags? Not the ones thrown from the guys wearing stripes. The penalties in the win over the Browns were beyond ridiculous and many were drive-killers or drive keepers depending upon which side of the ball they occurred. The Vikings are too talented to have these types of transgressions again and still expect a positive outcome.
The mental mistakes have to be eradicated and at some point, the Steelers are going to have to realize that aiming high on offensive players is going to get called every time. James Harrison figured it out so I highly suggest guys in the secondary figure it out too. The bottom line is the penalties have to stop.
Get Bryant and Bell Involved Immediately. If the Steelers wait until their fifth drive to throw deep to Martavis Bryant again then someone will finally need to check Todd Haley’s head. Furthermore, Le’Veon Bell needs touches immediately whether on the ground or through the air, he needs to get his motor up to speed early rather than late.
Antonio Brown has already proven he’s in mid-season form. Imagine what he can do if Bryant and Bell are both contributing big plays. Coverages will be forced to change. Safeties will have to inch closer and closer to the line of scrimmage and so on. Haley can’t wait to get these two going and if he attempts to do so via a ton of wide receiver screens then good luck avoiding the boos.
Cover. The. Slot. Want to discuss a recipe for disaster? A team with an excellent slot receiver versus the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. Adam Thielen is just such a player for the Vikings. He’s coming off a very good game against the Saints where he caught nine passes for 157 yards. Four of his nine receptions went for first downs as well. Minnesota will look to isolate Thielen on linebackers and safeties as often as they can and when the Steelers do get a nickel on the field will they go with William Gay or Mike Hilton?
Adam Thielen is NOT Julian Edelman but he’s pretty darn close and I have serious concerns if Gay can stay with him. The Steelers will need to use a variety of coverages and cover options in my opinion to create problems for Thielen. Disrupting his release would be nice as well. If Keith Butler can’t solve Thielen then it will be a long day for the secondary.
Predictions The SCB Crew is chiming in this week with their selections! Last week everyone nailed the Steelers’ victory.
Marc: Steelers 27 Vikings 18
Cnic: Steelers 23 Vikings 20
Tay: Steelers 27 Vikings 20
Chris: Steelers 24 Vikings 21
Ben: Steelers 33 Vikings 21
Ian: Steelers 20 Vikings 13