This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Panthers and Steelers in their week ten match-up. It is sponsored by Nail the Number: The Fight Against Cancer.
What: Carolina Panthers 6-2 at Pittsburgh Steelers 5-2-1
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 820pm ET Thursday November, 8th 2018
Weather: 45 degrees and just a 10% chance of rain
Line: Steelers -4
Last Week: The Panthers defeated Tampa Bay 42-28 while the Steelers beat Baltimore 23-16.
TV: FOX/NFLN Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink. Also Available via amazon with Hannah Stork and Andrea Kramer
TV Coverage in Your Area: It’s on National TV!
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: Walt Coleman
Key Injuries: PIT: OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee) – Out, DT Dan McCullers (Ankle) – Out CAR: DE Mario Addison (Shoulder) – Questionable, DE Marquis Haynes (Illness) – Out, C Ryan Kalil (Ankle) – Questionable, LB David Mayo (Groin) -Questionable, S Eric Reid (Shoulder) – Questionable, WR Torrey Smith (Knee) – Out
2018 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 11th CAR 8th Passing Offense: PIT 6th, CAR 5th Rushing Offense: PIT 26th, CAR 19th
Total Defense: PIT 10th, CAR 5th Passing Defense: PIT 16th, CAR 6th Rushing Defense: PIT 4th, CAR 13th
AFC North Rankings: Pittsburgh 5-2-1 Cincinnati 5-3 Baltimore 4-5 Cleveland 2-6-1
This Week: Baltimore – BYE, Atlanta at Cleveland 1pm, Saints at Bengals 1pm
What You Need to Know: The Steelers are 5-1-1 when they score 20 points or more… Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown connected on their 68th career TD pass breaking past Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne for sole possession of seventh place in terms of QB-WR combos… Alejandro Villanueva has played in 56 straight games. That’s the fourth longest streak currently in the NFL… Big Ben has now thrown for 15 TD passes or more in 15 straight seasons to begin a career. That’s an NFL record.
What’s at Stake: For Carolina, they still have two late-season games with the New Orleans Saints and that’s important because that’s who they are looking up at in the division. They need a win to keep pace and have to keep the Falcons at bay behind them. Pittsburgh has won four straight and appears to be surging after a tough road win over a rival. The Bengals have the aforementioned Saints at home on Sunday. A home win for the Steelers is a must Thursday night with so many tough games remaining.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 5-1 and 3-0 at home.
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 320 yards 12/23/2010, Panthers Steve Beuerlein 263 yards 12/26/1999 RUSHING: Steelers Le’Veon Bell 147 yards 9/21/2014, Panthers Fred Lane 90 yards 12/26/1999 RECEIVING: Steelers Plaxico Burress 120 yards 12/15/2002, Panthers Patrick Jeffers 160 yards 12/26/1999
Last Meeting: Sept. 21, 2014, at Carolina, Pittsburgh 37, Carolina 19
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Stop the Legs and Stop the Arm. With Cam Newton playing really well right now, some have forgotten that the Panthers have the third best rushing attack in the NFL. A big part of that is Newton himself. The Steelers have to be disciplined in rushing Newton but they also must not let him get loose on his designed runs either. When he does take off he has to be punished. He’s a big man with a durable frame but he doesn’t like getting hit and the Steelers need to make him “feel welcome” immediately. This helps create doubt not just in his running but in his passing as well.
No-Huddle No Problem. Ben Roethlisberger said earlier this week that the no-huddle offense may be used in order to make up for a lack of proper game-planning time. I’m always in favor of the no-huddle and I think this is a great time to deploy it. Carolina has a very solid defense but does give up over 22 points per game. The Steelers can limit the substitutions of the Panthers by using the no-huddle and keep in mind I’m not talking about the hurry-up offense here. I’m talking about getting everyone up to the line of scrimmage immediately after the previous play and then let Roethlisberger diagnose what he sees in front of him. You can still be methodical and you can still run some clock but you also limit what Carolina can do.
Turn. Them. Over. As improved as the Steelers’ defense has been, it is still woefully lacking in the ‘creating turnovers’ department. If they’re playing well why does that matter you may ask? Well, at some point you’re going to play offenses that start having success against you and you have to be able to turn them over as a way of slowing them down. That means stripping the ball, taking chances on passes and bringing more pressure. As of right now the Steelers have just nine takeaways. That has to get better as the colder games rapidly approach. Cam Newton will force throws and when he runs he doesn’t exactly protect the ball very well either. Bottom line? Start turning over the opposition in order to create more opportunities for your offense.
Predictions: It’s hard to ignore the fact that Ben Roethlisberger is 6-0 at home on Thursday nights. It’s also hard to ignore that this club realizes it has a mini-bye of sorts waiting for it especially if they can win. Despite being just 2-2 at home this season the Steelers have to turn in a positive performance against Carolina. But… Beware the Baltimore Hangover. The last six times the Steelers have beaten the Ravens they are just 2-4 in the following week over the last six years. I expect a shootout. Steelers 31 Panthers 28
Season Prediction Record: 5-3