Three Keys for an Eagles Win Over the Steelers
The Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) return home to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) following their 29-14 victory over the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football in Week 2.
Heading into the season, a lot of people thought the Eagles could be be 2-0 entering this game, but playing the Steelers is certainly their biggest test to date.
Quarterback Carson Wentz has exceeded all expectations thus far on the offensive side of the ball and the Eagles defense has been terrorizing opposing quarterbacks - sacking them seven times and knocking both Robert Griffin III and Jay Cutler out.
The Steelers have multiple weapons, with Antonio Brown, possibly the best wide receiver in football and running back DeAngelo Williams, who is averaging 119.5 yards per game this season.
One area the Steelers can be had is in their secondary, they don't blitz often but will show the Eagles a bunch of different looks, but this should be an area Wentz can excel today.
“I think Wentz can throw the ball on this team," ESPN NFL reporter Sal Paolantonio said on the Sports Bash.
Here are three things to look for in Sunday’s game:
1. The offensive line has to allow the Eagles to run the ball. The Steelers are second-best in the league against the running so far, allowing just 101 total rushing yards through two weeks. While the Eagles haven't run the ball particularly well, they continue to hand the ball-off. Eagles running back have carried the ball 57 times this season and Carson Wentz has thrown 71 passes, pretty good balance from a team getting just 3.5 yards per carry. However, to beat the Steelers, the Eagles offensive line must create some room for Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles to help keep Big Ben and company off-the-field.
"The Eagles want to run the ball and keep the offense on the field," Paolantonio told me on the Sports Bash. "They want to keep the Steelers offense off of the field. They (Eagles) have a low rushing average (3.5 YPC), but they have been sticking with the run to keep the opposing offenses off of the field.”
"It is going to be incredible difficult to run the ball, but if they get creative with jet sweeps and reverses and screens, use Darren Sproles and just stay away from the guts of the Steelers defense. Do not sit back and let Ben beat you, I think this is a go for broke and go after him in this game.”
2. Who covers Antonio Brown? It will be interesting to see what Jim Schwartz decides to do with Antonio Brown, especially without Leodis McKelvin. ESPN.com NFL Nation Steelers reporter Jeremy Folwer joined the Sports Bash Friday and talked about this:
"The Steelers may continue to run the ball if the Eagles shade towards (Antonio) Brown and if they do shade towards him then the Steelers have some decisions to make, whether to try to go deep or keep pounding the ball in the middle."
The Eagles run defense had some issues with the Bears on Monday Night, but Schwartz made some adjustments and ended up holding the Bears to just 64 yards on the ground.
3. Communication is going to be the key for Carson Wentz. While the Steelers don't blitz very much, just one sack this season, they are very sound on defense. Wentz has taken a lot of hits this season, but the Eagles offensive line should be able to keep him clean in the pocket this week.
"The Steelers will try to confuse Wentz with different looks because they do not blitz much at all," Fowler told us on Friday's show."
Wentz has been very good against the blitz this season, but as Sal Paolantonio told us Friday, don't expect to see a lot of it, but more confusing looks then he has seen so far.
"The Steelers only blitz 12% of the time - lowest in the NFL. They use zone blitzes with four-man rushes or three-man rushes. That’s the hallmark of what they do. They are not a blitzing team. They are a team built on misdirection, confusion and deception to force a guy into mistakes."
This is where communication will be key, trying to figure out how the Steelers are disguising their looks to try and confuse the rookie.
My Pick: Steelers 31, Eagles 20
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