It’s a tale of two different teams when the Chicago Bears travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
The Steelers are 0-2 and are in desperate need of a win. The Bears are just the opposite as they sit at 2-0 and will be tested on the road for the first time this season.
The Bears have used two fourth-quarter comebacks to beat the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings, where the Steelers struggled against the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals.
This game could come down to who will have the better offensive and defensive lines. Both teams have struggled with at least one of those factors in the previous two weeks. It also could come down to whatever quarterback can protect the ball better.
Either way it’s a huge game for both teams. Here are six players (in no order) to watch for Sunday night.
Big Ben doesn’t have the talent around him like he has had in previous seasons and it’s hurt thus far. Still the big quarterback is hard to bring down and with time can make the big play. The downside to Roethlisberger is he holds on to the ball to long and gives the defense an opportunity to strip it. That’s where the Bears defense has the advantage.
With his offensive line struggling so far this season, it will be key for Roethlisberger to make plays. If not, it could be a long night for the Pittsburgh quarterback.
The Steelers offensive line will need to play better than they have in the first two games of the season to give Roethlisberger time in the pocket. Let’s see if Big Ben can pick apart this Bears defense.
The Bears first round pick in 2013 has played well and has impressed in his first two games. This week could be his biggest challenge yet.
The Steelers defense loves to disguise all sorts of blitzes and make it tough on opposing offenses. Mix in the crowd noise from the home crowd and the Bears likely will have to go with a silent count at times in the game. This is where we will see if Long is up for the challenge.
Going against a tough defense like Pittsburgh’s is a good test for the rookie. A solid game protecting Cutler could show that Long is the real deal for the Bears.
Ike Taylor will have the job of matching up with Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall throughout the game. Last week Taylor did a good job on Bengals receiver A.J. Green.
Taylor will look to get physical with the 6-4, 240 pound Marshall who has been the Bears best receiver the past two seasons. The last time the two met was in 2010 and recently Marshall told ESPNChicago.com that he ‘disrespected’ Taylor the last time they met.
This time should be a different story. If Taylor can jam and disrupt Marshall, the Bears will have to look somewhere else in the passing game. This is certainly a match=up to watch.
Julius Peppers/ Henry Melton
Actually this spot can go for anyone on the Bears defensive line. It’s time to establish a pass rush and help your secondary out.
In two games this season we have seen nothing from the Bears defensive line pass rush wise. Just one sack through two games is something that could become alarming in the next few weeks.
This week they go against an offensive line that has had it’s struggles and should be the perfect cure for the Bears struggles on the defensive line. Peppers, Melton, Corey Wootton, Shea McClellin and Stephen Paea have a chance to restore some confidence in the line this week.
Adams struggled last week against the Bengals and this week it won’t easier. The left tackle will have the job of slowing down a struggling Julius Peppers.
With Peppers and the rest of the Bears defensive line struggling to get a solid pass rush thus far this season, this match=up could be an interesting one. Adams will be key for his role in protecting Roethlisberger. He will certainly need to be better than last week’s performance.
Both players are 6’7″ so no leverage advantage is given to Peppers or Adams. Let’s see if Adams can slow down Peppers and give Roethlisberger time to make plays.
Bennett will look to continue his hot start in his first year as a Chicago Bear. The tight end, signed in free agency, has been an immediate upgrade to the Bears this season. He’s given Cutler a nice big target and a match-up problem for opposing defenses.
With three touchdowns in the first two games, Bennett will certainly get the Steelers attention. If Bennett can beat the linebacker or corner back he is matched up with he could be in for another big game.