Well-rested Steelers host the winless Dolphins to wrap up the Week 8 slate
"Monday Night Football" features the Steelers hosting the Dolphins in a game that, let's be honest, the NFL probably would have flexed out if it had the option. These two teams played in an AFC Wild Card game in 2017 that the Steelers easily won, 30-12, but most key players are gone. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown accounted for nearly 300 yards of offense and three touchdowns in the victory, and neither left Pittsburgh on good terms. Miami's quarterback was Matt Moore, and he's now in Kansas City, while Ben Roethlisberger currently patrols the Steelers' sideline after suffering a season-ending elbow injury in Week 2.
The Steelers are 2-4 and are coming off their bye week and begin a stretch of three straight at home. They have used three quarterbacks this season but it looks like Mason Rudolph will be back under center after missing Week 6 against the Chargers. This is a very good defense that should be able to put pressure on Miami from every level. First-rounder Devin Bush leads Pittsburg with 52 tackles and has added a sack and two interceptions. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick also is making an impact after being traded by the Dolphins to the Steelers in mid-September.
Miami at Pittsburgh
Kickoff: Monday, Oct. 28 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Spread: Pittsburgh -14
Three Things to Watch
As mentioned above, Pittsburgh is coming off a bye week with two wins in their last three contests. The Steelers have to be feeling good about themselves and should be about as fresh as possible for this one. If this game gets out of hand, head coach Mike Tomlin may try and give some guys a breather as they get ready for a tough stretch of games (vs. Colts, vs. Rams, at Browns). For Miami, everyone is well aware of what the team is trying to accomplish even if the Dolphins have a "winnable" game up next at home against the Jets. This also is Miami's third straight road game since its Week 5 bye.
2. Taking care of business
Miami has trailed at halftime by the following scores: 42-10, 13-0, 10-6, 17-10 and 7-3. Only once have the Dolphins led at the half, last week when they were up 14-9 at Buffalo (went on to lose 31-21). This shows that the team tries hard out of the gate before letting down in the second half. It's a fascinating study to see this team pull off what they are doing. The Steelers need to use this game to get James Conner going since he has yet to run for more than 60 yards in a game this season. They also need to get Mason Rudolph going and build chemistry with JuJu Smith-Schuster. If top Miami cornerback Xavien Howard is out once again, then that should happen.
3. Trade deadline auditions
If I were a member of the Dolphins, I'd be playing hard so I could join a contender as the team continues to sell off assets. Running back Kenyan Drake was the latest sent packing, as he was traded to Arizona on Monday for a conditional 2020 draft pick. Drake didn't even travel with the team to Pittsburgh for this game so it was apparent he was not part of the team's future plans. As for the rest of the roster, Ryan Fitzpatrick should be garnering more interest as a backup somewhere or potentially a starter. He's completed 59 percent of his passes but has three touchdowns to five interceptions. The FitzMagic version can help teams win games, but the FitzTragic version will make sure you have no shot. There are some decent veterans on defense who could be on the move too. Play hard and a reward could be a trade to a playoff contender.
I mean, the Steelers are going to win. I could write a flowery paragraph here about the advantages and edges they have, but let's be honest, you've got one team trying and one not trying. It may be close early since Miami has shown the propensity to keep things competitive, but the lack of talent will catch up to them in the end. Pittsburgh gets this one in the win column as they make the push for a playoff berth.
Prediction: Steelers 27, Dolphins 10
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.