Steelers look to rebound at home against the Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks (1-0) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) will get together for a little interconference battle in Week 2 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. This will be a battle of two teams that are still a work in progress. They also are two teams capable of putting together a high-scoring classic as they did in 2015 when the Seahawks beat the Steelers 39-30 at CenturyLink Field.
in Week 1, Seattle had an uneven performance against Cincinnati in a 21-20 win over a Bengals team that showed plenty of fight under new head coach Zac Taylor. The good news is that the Seahawks found a way to win, won the turnover battle and continued their home September success. The bad news is there is a lot of work to do for this team as the line of scrimmage was a problem on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton had too much time to throw the football on most occasions, finishing with 415 yards and two touchdowns. Offensively, Seattle did not live up to its reputation as the best rushing attack in the NFL with 72 yards on 25 attempts. Those numbers have to improve moving forward in order for the Seahawks to contend for a playoff spot.
Last week in Foxborough was one of those days for Pittsburgh where you just take the game film and burn it as the Steelers lost 33-3 to New England. Ben Roethlisberger and the offense couldn't get anything going all day long against the Patriots defense. Roethlisberger completed 27 of 47 passes for 276 yards and threw one interception. The running game was only able to generate 32 yards and that is not textbook Pittsburgh football. On defense, the Steelers had zero answers for Tom Brady as he surgically attacked the Pittsburgh secondary and threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns. This week, the Steelers defense has the fun task of trying to contain Russell Wilson but at least they will have a jacked-up home crowd behind them on Sunday.
Seattle at Pittsburgh
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept 15 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Steelers -3.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Battle of the running games
Seattle's offensive line came into the 2019 season with some high expectations as they brought back four starters. Last week, the Bengals neutered the Seahawks running game by using a 5-2 front and only allowed one big play, a 21-yard run by Chris Carson late in the fourth quarter. The offensive line will have to step up against the Steelers' quality front seven and try to open up holes from the get-go. Likewise, you can expect Pittsburgh to make more of a commitment to the run early against the Seahawks. James Conner carried the ball 10 times for 21 yards and had little room to operate last Sunday night against the Patriots. If the Steelers can generate at least the threat of a running attack it will help open up things in the passing game on Sunday.
2. Wide receiver battle
Rookie DK Metcalf got off to a nice start last week with four catches for 89 yards against Cincinnati's secondary. Tyler Lockett was targeted just twice but caught a 44-yard touchdown for the game-winning score and his lone reception of the game. One of the keys will be pass protection after Russell Wilson was sacked four times and hit nine total last week by the Bengals. The Seahawks should be able to have their shots to hit a few deep balls against the Steelers secondary. JuJu Smith-Schuster (6 rec, 78 yards) had a strong start as Pittsburgh's No. 1 wide receiver as there's no doubt the Steelers are glad they have merely been observers of the ongoing circus related to former Steeler Antonio Brown. The problem for the Steelers is finding that quality secondary option as Donte Moncrief (10 targets, 3 rec., 7 yds.) did not get off to a great start last week. It will be interesting to see if Ben Roethlisberger will try to get Moncrief or James Washington or tight end Vance McDonald going early against a Seattle secondary that struggled last week.
3. Defensive line play
Newest Seahawk Jadeveon Clowney knocked the rust off in the opener as he played okay against Cincinnati picking up a couple of tackles and a sack. Quinton Jefferson had two sacks as he was the early beneficiary of the Bengals giving extra attention to Clowney in their blocking schemes. Ziggy Ansah returned to the practice on Thursday and if he ends up being able to play about 20 snaps on Sunday that will be a huge help for the Seattle pass rush. The Steelers tied for the league lead in sacks last season with 52 but only picked up one against Tom Brady last week. Bud Dupree and Cam Hayward should be able to generate plenty of pressure on Wilson all afternoon long as the Seahawks are not elite at pass blocking. If Dupree and Hayward along with linebacker T.J. Watt can keep get to Wilson or at least keep him in the pocket when he drops back, then Pittsburgh will be in great shape to win on Sunday.
The over/under in this game is 47 according to the folks in Vegas and this matchup has the feel of blowing past that despite the struggles that both offenses showed in Week 1. Seattle has a knack of rising to the occasion when they are an underdog on the road out on the East Coast. Thus, the Seahawks will keep the game in doubt into the fourth quarter but fall just short. The Steelers will not answer all of their questions this week, but they will do enough in the passing game to get their first win of the season.
Prediction: Steelers 34, Seahawks 30
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.