Heinz Field, 6 days before the WPIAL Championships
Radio: WDVE and other affiliates
Reminder: Since Detroit is the visiting team today, the game will be on FOX, not on CBS.
Also, Reminder: Mother Nature hates the Steelers. It's going to rain today.
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What To Watch For
Every once in a while, there is a player that is so totally dominant at his position, he alone is worth the price of admission. Calvin Johnson is one of those players. At most other positions in the league, there can at least be some debate about who is the best player. Not so here. This is the best receiver to play at Heinz Field since it was built and the most excited you should be to see an opposing receiver play since Jerry Rice. The Steelers will have a tall task in defending him. Don't be surprised if Dick LeBeau goes back to the strategy he used against Larry Fitzgerald in Super Bowl XLIII where Troy bumped/pressed against Fitz at the line then released him to Ike who was playing off coverage.
2. Reggie Bush
If there's one thing the Steelers have struggled to defend this year, it's running backs. In particular, running backs out of the backfield. The Lions offense has been on a different level this season with Bush's slashing ability and his maneuverability in space. The Steelers are going to have to keep an eye on him at all times and make sure they cover him on pass patterns out of the backfield.
3. A Banged Up Line
Everyone on the Steelers line is injured. This isn't even a joke. The injury report lists Adams, Beachum, DeCastro, Gilbert and Velasco as probable and Foster as questionable. With the exception of Adams (ribs), all of them have injuries to their legs - either knees ankles or hips. Against an athletic defensive line that likes to get upfield in a hurry, this could present a problem. The Lions D-line uses a lot of the same philosophies that the Titans of the late 2000s did when they absolutely dominated the Steelers up front. Those Steelers lines were a bit better than this unit as well.
4. An Ugly Day
It's going to rain. The Steelers are 3-6. They're playing a team with a dynamic running back and the best receiver on the planet. And to make matters worse, they're wearing the bumblebee / Where's Waldo throwbacks. Not much positive to say about any of that.
5. Wait, what?
The Steelers and Lions are playing a game in November. One team is on top of their division and the other is in last place. Somewhat shockingly, this is a reversal of the script that we have come to know over the last decade-plus of NFL football. The Lions are in the driver's seat in the NFC North with Aaron Rodgers figuring to be out at least a few more weeks and coming off a victory over the Bears where Jay Cutler was injured. Right now, the Lions are the only team in the NFC North with a healthy starting quarterback. The Steelers are sitting at a lowly 3-6 and struggling to get back to relevance. The good news is that the Lions have been decidedly worse on the road this season than they have been at home, and with rainy conditions this could slow down the Lions speedy offense.