The Pittsburgh Steelers will be hoping to quickly wash away the memory of their Week 1 disaster when they entertain the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 15 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Fans in local markets can watch the game on Fox.
According to the Week 2 NFL odds, the Steelers are 4-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 46.5 points.
Are we seeing the decline of the Steelers in front of our face? It certainly looked that way during last week’s 33-3 loss to the Patriots. After getting dominated in all phases of the game and losing by 30 points, albeit against the Patriots, it seems fair to ask those questions. The fact is that both Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are long gone and Ben Roethlisberger is no spring chicken anymore.
On the other hand, it’s just one game and Pittsburgh has plenty of time to right the ship. However, after missing out on the playoffs last year, the last thing the Steelers can afford to do is dig themselves an early hole. With three of their next five games coming against playoff teams, Pittsburgh’s schedule is far from friendly. Things could get out of hand for the Steelers quickly if they lose this week and start 0-2.
Meanwhile, the Seahawks will count themselves lucky to have avoided a Week 1 loss. Seattle was a 9-point favorite at home and a popular choice in eliminator pools. But they were out-gained by nearly 200 yards against the Bengals and finished the game with just 12 first downs.
In the end, the Seahawks survived 21-20. But it was far from a convincing effort for a team that expects to get to the playoffs. Seattle now sets off with one of their five trips to the East coast. With teams like the Saints and Rams on their schedule in the weeks to come, the Seahawks need to play a lot better than they did last week in order to avoid their difficult early-season schedule putting them in a hole.
If I know the Steelers, they will respond well to last week’s drubbing and come back with a point to prove. However, I question whether they have the players to bounce back, especially when the spread calls for them to cover four points. I have serious questions about Pittsburgh doing that against a quality Seattle team, so I have to lean toward the underdog Seahawks to at least beat the spread.
It’s easy to say that the Steelers are better off without the distraction that Brown brought. But he was still a big-time playmaker on the field, and the Pittsburgh offense just isn’t the same without him. JuJu Smith-Schuster can fill the void as the team’s top receiver. But there’s no one to fill Smith-Schuster’s shoes as the complementary receiver. Donte Moncrief had a series of frustrating drops last week while Ryan Switzer managed just 39 yards on six catches. Ultimately, Roethlisberger averaged less than six yards per pass attempt last week, so something has to change.
To make matters worse, the Steelers didn’t run the ball effectively last week either. Of course, James Conner isn’t going to be held to 21 yards on 10 carries every week. But his performance was still discouraging. On a related note, the Seattle defense stuffed Joe Mixon and Cincinnati’s rushing attack last week. It’s not impossible for the Steelers to struggle on the ground again and become one-dimensional on offense.
If the Seahawks can keep Conners contained, they’ll have a great chance to unleash their pass rush on Roethlisberger, who’s not as mobile as he was a few years ago. New addition Jadveon Clowney made an instant impact last week, notching one of the team’s five sacks. Even if the Seahawks were a little vulnerable on the back end last week, allowing Andy Dalton to throw for over 400 yards, it remains to be seen if the Steelers have the receivers to take advantage.
On the other side of the ball, we saw a somewhat lackluster but overall efficient performance from the Seattle offense in Week 1. Russell Wilson didn’t put up eye-popping numbers, finishing with just under 200 yards passing. But he did enough to win, connecting on 14 of his 20 passes with two touchdowns.
Rookie DK Metcalf had an impressive debut, catching four passes for 89 yards, while Tyler Lockett’s only catch turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. The Seattle offense can be limited at times, especially with an unspectacular performance from the running game. But if Metcalf gives them a second threat on the outside, the Seahawks should be a little more consistent offensively.
After last week, I’m not expecting any fireworks from the Pittsburgh offense. The Seattle defense isn’t going to give up too many points while Wilson and company are capable of matching whatever Roethlisberger does. The best-case scenario for the Steelers is stealing a win in a low-scoring affair. Even if Pittsburgh wins, I don’t see them covering four points, so I’ll lean toward the Seahawks with a fair amount of confidence.