The folks over at ESPN are getting ramped up about this week's Monday Night Football matchup, one that could very well end up being the most significant MNF game of the first half of the season.
The 5-2 Steelers (whose only losses are in the NFC East), will come visit the 'Skins at Fed Ex.
Nervous? Well, maybe you should be. But the fact is the Steelers are tremendously overrated.
Can you believe Ben Roethlisberger is being considered (by some, at least this writer) for MVP? He threw 4 picks last week ALONE! Can you believe Pittsburgh is ahead of us in the (meaningless) power rankings after beating a total of one team (the mediocre 4-3 Ravens) with a record over .500?
The Steelers have not been tested this entire season as far as who they've played. They are being hyped as the second-best team in the AFC, but for once, that might not mean too much considering the relative weakness of that conference (except Tennessee).
The Steelers' division consists a 4-3 team with a rookie QB from Delaware, a medicore at best Browns squad, and the miserable Bengals.They've beaten all three of those teams to pad their 5-2 record. Whoopdefreaking doo. They're 1-2 against .500 teams. We're 4-1 against them, with our only loss to the Champs.
The 'Skins are more battle-tested and, frankly, the team more ready to win this game. We also will need to keep pace in our division -- the Giants will likely be 7-1 after they play the Cowboys. And we're at home.
I'm going to say it now -- this is the game the Redskins break out. This is when the 'Skins momentum shifts from the stagnant games we've had the last few weeks and we become elite. This is a nationally-televised game where we get to prove ourselves against a team that many consider (for some reason) to be at the top of the NFL heap.
Counter-arguers will tell you Pittsburgh has the #1 ranked defense in the NFL -- in part because of who they've played, I might add. (The Redskins, by the way, have the #6 defense in the NFL, and we played the Cowboys, Saints, Giants, Eagles, and Cardinals, who are all in the top 8 offenses... but I digress.)
The Steelers did a decent job at containing the Giants, but their #3 rank against the rush will not last after this week (ask Philadelphia, who had #1 until they played CP and the Skins). Clinton Portis is running bigger and badder than anyone in the NFL this season, and our offensive line will be sure to dominate the line of scrimmage. It may take a while, but Portis is grinding used to grinding it out. The 'Skins have the 2nd-most rushing YPG in the NFL. I expect Portis to win this battle and show the nation why he's the MVP of the NFL thus far.
Campbell will continue to protect the ball. His 100.5 QB rating (good for 5th in the NFL, 15 points ahead of Big Ben's) is the best one the Steeler's have seen all year. (That's right, he's ahead of Eli Manning and McNabb). If the ground game is working, and our offensive line can contain the blitzes, Zorn will use his classic mix of deep balls and screens to beat this team. Santana Moss, the league's #5 receiver, will be the best WR the Steelers have faced this season since Andre Johnson.
Also, anyone who watched the game last week knows that Kevin Boss ended up having his way with the Steelers defense. Ever hear of Chris Cooley? And you know Randle El will be gearing up for a big week against his former team that let him walk.
Offensively, the Steelers are relatively easy to crack. The Ravens, Giants, and Eagles put a ton of pressure on Roethlisberger, and each time he's had medicore, at best, games. With our coverage being as strong as it's been, we're going to need to get a big game from Carter, Evans, and Wilson. I think this is the game where they start to show themselves. It better be.
Readers, we will need a complete football game to beat the Steelers. But the matchups are in our favor to do so. At home on national TV, the 'Skins must prove themselves to us and the rest of the nation. If we beat the Steelers, who I think are not as good as the Redskins, we will have to be considered one of the top 3 teams in the NFL across the board.
Let's get a season-defining win this week... I'm telling you -- if we do, this could be our season to go deep into the playoffs.