I've got a couple of much more detailed and information-rich posts about the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 8 home tilt with the New England Patriots on tap for Thursday and Friday, but a quick post here on a couple of potential 'sleepers' in Sunday's game. That's the premise of this sponsored series from Vicks, but I don't have just one. And why should I? Football games aren't decided by one guy. None of these names qualify at all as 'sleepers'. But I am not much one for sleeping anyway, so let's set our own rules here a bit and just look at four guys who I think will make impact plays that ultimately propel the Steelers to victory.
- Emmanuel Sanders: The 2010 rookie third-rounder posted career highs in receptions (5) and receiving yards (41) in the Steelers Week 10 loss to New England a year ago. Sanders also caught his first career touchdown that day in the 39-26 defeat. With Mike Wallace tearing up the league and Antonio Brown looking better and better each week, I'd expect Sanders to be in plenty of favorable matchups. Obviously Bill Belichick will be just fine with Sanders catching 6 or 7 passes for 75 yards than he would be Wallace and Brown gobbling up chunks of yardage each time they touch the ball.
- Heath Miller: The Steelers reliable tight end has 9 catches for 120 yards in his past two games against New England (5 for 60, 4 for 60). I'd expect something similar from Miller on Sunday, if not a bit more given how Ben Roethlisberger has targeted him a tad more frequently in recent weeks.
- Troy Polamalu: No. 43 has allowed interceptions to slip out of his grasp in recent weeks. I can't see that happening again provided he puts himself in position again this week to make a play. Even though Tom Brady is far more assertive, guarded and formidable with his decision making, I think Polamalu will still find a way to make more than one important play, be it an interception, sack, fumble, whatever.
- Max Starks: The veteran left tackle is 3-for-3 really in terms of playing at an acceptably high level since being re-signed earlier this month. Starks has fared well against his upcoming counterpart -- Andre Carter. The two last squared off in the Steelers 2007 early November matchup with Washington. If Starks can contain Carter on Sunday, the Steelers will be one big step closer towards being able to execute at a high level offensively.