The Steelers face their toughest challenge of the season this Sunday when the 6-0 Minnesota Vikings, led by Brett Favre, come to town. The two teams have met 15 times in regular seasons past, with the Vikings winning 8 of those meetings. But, as we have learned this season, each game is an entity all it’s own and the past does not matter much. So, let’s look at what both teams bring to this table.
The Steelers are shaping up to be a pass first, run later team. The offensive line has really stepped up to the plate, allowing Ben Roethlisberger the time he needs to get the ball to someone. That someone has mostly been Hines Ward, with a league leading 41 receptions for 599 yards. Adding to the passing threat are Santonio Holmes, rookie Mike Wallace, and TE Heath Miller. The rushing game is being led by Rashard Mendenhall, who has definitely earned the starting spot from the lackluster Willie Parker.
The Vikings have two very big threats in Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson. Stopping Peterson will be the Steelers biggest challenge, especially with the loss of Aaron Smith, a stellar run killer. But Brett Favre can not be ignored. He is a force to be reckoned with, and has good targets in receivers Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice, and TE Visanthe Shiancoe.
Some key matchups to be on the lookout for in this game:
Brett Favre vs. Troy Polamalu
This will be Troy’s second game back after a knee injury and he will be hungry. He needs to mix it up, keep Favre guessing. If the Steelers D can cause some confusion, Brett will turn the ball over. The turnover ratio might be the difference maker in this one.
Heath Miller vs. the Vikings Defense
The Vikings are one of the league’s worst at defending against the tight end. Heath Miller needs to get himself in good position to get some passes from Roethlisberger and exploit that.
Jared Allen vs. Max Starks
Jared Allen will be the biggest threat the Steelers o-line has seen all season. He is quick off the ball and will be aiming for Ben on every play. Max Starks is slower off the ball than Allen and the Steelers might have to double team him to keep him under wraps.
I am really looking forward to this being a tight close game and think that if the Steelers have all their pieces in place they can hand the Vikings their first loss of the 2009 season.
Prediction - 27-24 Steelers
Current: Coming Soon!