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Author Topic: Divisional Round: Sat, Jan 15 @ 4:30 ET feat. BAL @ PIT  (Read 7166 times)
jonzr
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« on: Jan 04, 2011 at 10:02 »

Bring 'em on, whoever it is.  It's been a strange season IMO.  It kinda flew by for me, it's hard to believe the playoffs are upon us but here they are.  I'm rooting for another Seahags/Steelers Superbowl!    
« Last Edit: Jan 09, 2011 at 17:37 by jonzr » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 10:41 »

IMO, the Pats are the toughest test.  If we get to the SB, I think we'd match well with any team.

Beat Atlanta without Ben, don't think they have the juice.  Bears would be a classic slugfest, but Ben >> Cutler is the difference, and PSO WRs >>> CBO WRs; they beat us last year thanks to Skippy, and the rain.  Philly's WRs could give us fits, but I think as we approach the playoffs Mike Vick's performance arc starts to wane, and he reverts towards his norm; also not as impressed with their D this year.  Seattle is horrendous.  Saints beat us earlier, but I think we played a very lackluster game; they didn't blow us out, and LeBeau wins a lot of rematches.  Packers might make the most interesting opponent, with a solid passing game and a very good Capers D; we beat them last year, but I think this matchup would be very close.
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 11:08 »

No doubt, the Pats are the team to beat.  And despite the poor showing the first time around, I think the Steelers have the best shot (of the AFC teams) to beat them.  And the Packers are the team I'd least want to see from the NFC.  They are balanced (enough) on offense and that defense is solid.  But a solid helmet to helmet from Harrison to their goober QB would salt away a win!

But my nightmare is Beardy dinking 'em to sleep with Danny boy and Welker and popping a deep pass to Branch that catches Troy in mid-dive over the line and Clark slipping to the turf.  But a solid helmet to helmet from Harrison to their goober QB would salt away a win!

Really though, I don't know how you slow down that offense.  The no-pressure/coverage approach = slow but sure death.  They always seem to handle the pressure well enough via blocking scheme or roll outs or hitting their safety valve.  They have to disrupt the timing of Beardy and his receivers, be they WRs or TEs.  If we see Steelers playing their corners >5 yards off the WRs then they will lose for sure.

So, I know the Steelers really like to "do what they do" but they'd better come prepared to stop what the Patsies do.  Duh!

So, wonder who they'll play on the 15th?  I agree with your playoff guide post that the Ravens beat KC but I'm leaning the other way towards Indy.  This would work out best for the Steelers for two reasons - IMO it'll be easier to beat Indy.  Then, a Ratties sledge-hammer pummeling (but eventual loss) will make the Patsies a little easier to knock off.  So that Indy pick may be wishful thinking.
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 11:53 »

Really though, I don't know how you slow down that offense.  The no-pressure/coverage approach = slow but sure death.  They always seem to handle the pressure well enough via blocking scheme or roll outs or hitting their safety valve.  They have to disrupt the timing of Beardy and his receivers, be they WRs or TEs.  If we see Steelers playing their corners >5 yards off the WRs then they will lose for sure.

These playoffs, for the Steelers, come down to being able to beat the Patriots. I think I might even prefer to beat them than win the Super Bowl, if I could pick my scenarios.

Anyway, should we play them, I don't know how we slow down that offense. Terrible weather could help. But I think that the most important thing for the Steelers going against the Patriots would actually concern how well our offense plays -- especially at the begining of the game.

I think we have to do the thing every pundit says you shouldn't do against New England: force Brady into a shootout.

They have won a lot of blowouts, and one advantage for an opponent in the playoffs may be that Brady hasn't had to consistently score points with urgency. In other words, he's piled up a lot of yards and points with a comfortable lead. Make him *need* to score, put the pressure on him to do so drive after drive, and I think he'll be slightly less comfortable out there and mistakes could happen as a result.

We also know that Ben, when asked to air it out, can pile up the yards and touchdowns as well as anyone. That would have to be our mentality going into the game right off the bat - urgency to score points on offense. We won't beat the Patriots by playing for field position, or by "establishing the run." We'd have to come out, pop-pop-pop, and move the ball with urgency. Tomlin should tell his guys to assume we're down 21 points from the get-go.

Their defense can be scored on (though I don't think it's as bad as their stats suggest, and not by a longshot). Score early, force Brady to have to make big plays, force their inexperienced guys on offense (Woodhouse and the two TEs) to make plays that matter, and we might force an error or two that we can then take advantage of.

Defensively, I don't have much faith in any approach, really. We can't big-blitz, we can't play soft, we can't play tight. We have to do all three, varying what we do play-to-play and drive-to-drive. Try to make big plays on defense, tip as many passes as possible, try to strip the ball, be a little risky with trying to create turnovers (which I know they don't make easily). We're not going to force a lot of 3-and-outs on those guys. We've got to go for the pick and our offense has to be sharp on every drive.
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« Reply #4 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 12:00 »

Not to take the first round for granted, though.

I hope we play the Chiefs or the Colts, in that order. I'm more confident in our ability to rattle Manning than I am in our ability to score on the Jets or Ravens.
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 12:02 »

12.28.05, Steelers lose 26-7 in Indy.  This, sandwiched between a 16-13 loss to the Ravens and a 38-31 loss to the Bengals seemed to show the limits of the Steelers season, and the impossibility of winning a matchup versus the vaunted Colts offense.  (The next game after the Bengals loss was the brilliant 21-9 win over the Bears, in the snow, Bettis trucking Urlacher.)

12.24.05, Steelers win 41-0 over the Browns in their penultimate game.

1.15.06, Steelers win 21-18 in Indy in a game that really wasn't that close.  Effin' zebras robbed Polamalu; the Bettis fumble; Ben with "The Tackle."  Colts got 15 points in the 4Q, for perspective.

Just saying, even though the Patriots with Brady have had their success against us, it's no given, especially with LeBeau meeting a team a second time in a season.

(Contrariwise, Ben's rookie season saw the Steelers upset the then-undefeated Patriots 10.31.04 34-20, only to lose that horrid AFCC 41-27 on 1.23.05.)

Patriots are not impossible to beat.  Browns beat 'em, FFS.  Jets, who got crushed in the rematch, took the first game.  Packers with Matty Flynn nearly did it.  

Keys:

*Healthy Troy and Aaron Smith.  The DL played its best early with a rotation of healthy players to keep them fresh.
*Blitz Brady better.  The Pats OL is very, very good, so you have to overload them in unexpected ways, force Brady to throw hot reads that our DBs can anticipate.  This is all **** LeBeau's specialty.  If you bring extra from one side, drop OLB or DL on the other side, that means Brady's going to attack the blitzing side or hit a quick crosser.  I think guys like Timmons and Gay would do a good job of interrupting Welker and Woodhead, for example.  And of course Troy is the ultimate wild card.  Haven't seen him blitzing as much of late, he's been covering more, and brilliantly.
*Keep Brady on the Bench.  It's nice to get out to a quick lead, and I think our offense is rounding to form, but I don't like a shootout with this bunch.  If we can get some early turnovers and then take the air out of the tires with 34 and 33, the game could get away from them.
*Punishing hits.  Let Clark get another killer hit on Welker, let Harrison and Woodley level Brady, hit guys and make them remember it.  Or forget it.  
*Win turnovers, limit mistakes.  As always.  Pats are +28 this season, but what happens when they're -2 or more in a game?  
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 12:11 »

Terrible weather won't help.  They rolled the Bears on a snowy day in Chi-town.  But perhaps you're right with the defensive approach - no one way is gonna do it, just try to limit them and force them to make mistakes and even play from behind if possible.

I think you're right on the offensive approach.  While is sounds insane to challenge the Patsies to a shootout, it would be nice to force them to play from behind.  I do think the Steelers should have no fewer than 3 receiving options on the field at any time - they don't all have to be WRs.  Don't go crazy with 5 WRs too much.  And fucking use Wallace and Sanders!  You know, just take a very un-Arians-like approach.

And how about some no-huddle throughout?  No, not necessarily on every series but more frequently than the end of halfs.

And while I agree that it would be super awesome to beat the Patsies, to do so and then lose the Superbowl would be a massive kick to the nuts - akin to beating the Russians but losing the gold.
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« Reply #7 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 12:15 »

Retribution = beating the Patsies in Foxboro!
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 12:18 »

*Keep Brady on the Bench.  It's nice to get out to a quick lead, and I think our offense is rounding to form, but I don't like a shootout with this bunch.  If we can get some early turnovers and then take the air out of the tires with 34 and 33, the game could get away from them.

Ordinarily, I would agree (and I agree with all the other insights in your reply). And I totally agree that these Patriots are vulnerable. I don't think they're unbeatable, and, in fact, I think this Patriots team would lose a Super Bowl to either Atlanta, New Orleans, or Green Bay, and possibly to Philly. I really do.

But they have a long track record of matching up very well against us.

Offensively, I don't think we're capable of a "keep Brady on the bench" approach. It's not that I don't think we shouldn't consider this plan. It's that I don't think we can execute it.

Our offense is a big-play offense, and at times, it has been spectacular. But it has no consistency. I'm not convinced our offense is coming around because of recent performances against the Panthers and Browns, good as they looked. In fact, the Panthers and Browns games make my point, in that, even against those teams we struggled to run it consistently.

We aren't a 12-play, grind-it-down-field offense, and if we start the game aiming to do that, I fear we'll be down by 14 by the end of the 1st.
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« Reply #9 on: Jan 04, 2011 at 12:21 »

Finny, I do like the "Keep Beardy on the bench" approach, but man, not happy to take the air out of the ball with <14 pt lead.  Their Pretty Boy QB is one of the best at winning on the last drive.  I'd like to see Big Ben taking a knee with 90 seconds left after the Patsies scored to cut it to 7 and failed their onside kick.

That would be sweet!  And in Foxborough?  Double-fucking-sweet.

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