In week three, the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) find themselves on the road again, playing the Carolina Panthers (2-0) on Sunday night. After beating Cleveland 30-27 in their home opener in week one, the Steelers went on the road and were defeated by Baltimore 26-6. How will they hold up during their second straight road game? Itâ€™s hard to say, as they are playing a very good Panther team that beat Tampa Bay 20-14 and Detroit 24-7.
The Steelers can certainly rack up yards in the air but they are having a tough time turning those yards into points. The team will be looking to get it done this week when they are in the red zone.
QB Ben Roethlisberger is a big guy and a big factor in any Steeler game. Heâ€™s connecting on 63.4% of his passes and averaging 8.2 yards per toss. But Roethlisberger has thrown two picks and one TD and has been sacked five times. Productivity is a prime issue for the 11-year vet. Antonio Brown, who caught his one touchdown pass, leads the team with 12 catches, 206 yards, and 17.2 yards per reception. In his second season, RB Le’Veon Bell is proving to be a real asset. He has 32 carries for 168 yards and an average of 5.3 yards per attempt.
The Pittsburgh defense has just three sacks, and they have been unable to create a turnover. They have no interceptions, forced fumbles, or blocked kicks. The D is doing a decent job of stopping opponents in the red zone and making them take the field goal. But to win the team needs more from the guys on this side of the ball.
Pittsburgh placekicker Shaun Suisham is five for five on field goals. Thatâ€™s great news. However, the Steelers would certainly like to score more TDs and have Suisham split the uprights less for 3 pointers. They need touchdowns to win.
Carolina is ably performing on offense and defense. The team has quality starters and solid depth. That was clear when backup quarterback Derek Anderson led the team to a win in game one and then starting QB Cam Newton played in game two of the season and did not miss a beat.
Both Newton and Anderson have been flawless with neither committing a turnover and both garnering QB ratings of 100-plus. Newton is listed as probable this week and should be on the field. The Panthers like to pass, but they are also able to put a good rushing game on the field, keeping opponents off-balance. DeAngelo Williams is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Primary passing targets are Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin; each has caught a TD pass.
Carolina puts a very solid defense on the field. LB Luke Kuechly leads the team with 20 total tackles, while CB Antoine Cason is second with 19. Together they have three forced fumbles. Both DT Dwan Edwards and DE Mario Addison are tied for the team lead in sacks with 2.5. Roethlisberger and his offense will have his hands full with this defense, which has 7 sacks, 3 TFL, 3 INTs, and 6 forced fumbles, 3 of which they have recovered.
The Panthers will be led by one of their two fine QBs and their defense should be able to put pressure on Roethlisberger who has a history of being non-mobile.
Caroline is the favorite by three points. If their D can perform to expectations, look for the margin of victory to be wider. However, never negate Roethlisberger. Heâ€™s a tough, resilient quarterback, and he comes into this gaming looking to get back in the win column.