Thank God for football season. I thought it might never come. Thankfully it has and with it games that matter on television again. I thought last weeks game went about how I hoped it might. I had little hope for the running game versus the Titans and thought Collins might get some good garbage yards versus the Steelers D.
But the new week is upon us and I'm heading out of town tomorrow to get married, so I wanted to share what little insight I might have to offer for this weeks game. Living in Chicago and routing occasionally for the Bears has made it so that I've watched more than my fair share of Bears football over the last few years. Combine that with spending far to much time watching and discussing the Steelers perhaps gives me a slight bit of insight into this weeks game. Ya'll can be the judge of that after the jump...
The Steelers on Offense
The Bears run defense is definitely exploitable. Much of the defensive line over penetrates (Tommie Harris I'm looking in your direction) which would allow draws and slow developing plays more room to gash a defense. However, this would require all the linemen on the same page and a OC who knows when to make these calls. I'm not too confident in either of these areas for the Steelers. In recent years the defense has compensated for this penetration with having two of the linebackers fill gaps immediately on running downs. This causes the line to jam up much like it did against the Titans. The Bears have had good linebacking cores that can flow to the ball when a RB tries to bounce these outside. The ends also tend to do a good job keeping contain. Urlacher is out, but I don't see it making too much of a difference in the running game. He had gotten to the point where he was nearly a liability in the run game. He always relied on his athleticism to run around blockers, but if you got a hat on him he would be inept and you can drive him wherever you want. The real thumper is Briggs who will still bring some heat in the running game.
However this interior pressure on running downs should open things up for Santonio Holmes. The Bears secondary has been getting injured left and right the last few years, and this year has been no exception. Who they have left is a step slow and and can be ripped for huge yardage (see the throw to Greg Jennings to seal the game). I think this could be a huge game for Holmes on quick outs, slants, and WR screens. The other recipient and where the Steelers can attack even better without Urlacher is with Heath Miller. A play of BA's that I actually love is the middle screen to Heath. I think this could be an easy 8-10 yards once to twice a game. None of the Bears safeties or LBs can match up with Heath.
The blocking on passing downs can be difficult. The Bears have good depth and defensive line and like bringing heat with multiple blitzers. I wish that I could have confidence that Arians and Z would game plan for this and run more 3 step drops and quick hits to slow them down and make them think more, but I'll believe it when I see it. I would imagine Ben gets hit a few times this game (what's new).
The Bears on Offense
Not surprisingly I like the Steelers D in almost every matchup on the field. Hester is still nowhere near a polished receiver, and as long as they are disciplined and make the tackles they should make the secondary should be able to keep him in front of them even without Troy.
Matt Forte is a great back and will probably see more looks this week after the coaching staff and Jay "Pouty Face" Cutler ignored their best weapon from last year. I'm not worried about him running the ball as I believe in our run defense against the Bears aging line, but I could see him hitting some seams in the screen/wheel routes.
As to Jay... He's still trying to prove that he's better than Elway (he's not). He'll force throws and I think that our defense will probably come up with 2 interceptions. I'd make it 3 if Troy was still in. He can drill a throw, but with the Bears receivers he'll have a hard time getting the big plays. Greg Olsen should figure into the game plan heavily and I'm hoping that TImmons is back for nickel situations so that he and Farrior can take turns kicking the crap out of him when he tries to catch a ball.
In last weeks game the Bears O-Line looked almost as bad as the Steelers. Pace is old and showing it. If Deebo doesn't get choked to death without holding calls he should be in Jay's face constantly. Chris Williams is playing like a rookie, and Woodley could devour him as well.
There was a time where this would have scared the bejesus out of me (not sure what he's doing in there anyway), but these days I find myself comforted with the large legs of Robopunter and the tiny body of Logan. Creepy I know. The Bears special teams is the best coached in the league and could make a play or two, but if the defense comes to play they can hopefully mitigate the damage, while Logan helps provide good starting field position for Ben and his crazy band of misfits.
All the best to all my fellow Steeler fans. Sorry for adding yet another post to the rapidly devolving fanposts section, but this is the one game of the year where I've done my scouting. My final prediction is that the Steelers win 27-9.