Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport
The Cowboys have a few fairly large matchup advantages on paper, but the Steelers have an odd way of turning those into strengths on game day. There are still plenty of reasons to feel the Steelers will defeat Dallas in Week 15.
Two of the game's most injured teams face off in the House That Jerral Wayne Built. Both teams have had to fight with depth instead of their main arsenals, and both have had varying success in doing it.
All of that is secondary to fighting through the pain that comes with the end of the season.
Runnin' With The Devil
While the Cowboys have a distinct and obvious advantage on paper with their offense throwing against Pittsburgh's banged up secondary, the Steelers conversely are at a point where they can get back to doing what they've done to all three other "Beast" teams of the NFC East - run all over them. It was Rashard Mendenhall against the Eagles. Jonathan Dwyer racked up yards against the Redskins and Isaac Redman dominated the Giants. Contrary to what Cowboys fans might want to think, Mendenhall has barely factored into any game plan outside that Week 5 game, and the Steelers have shown they can run with success with either Dwyer or Redman.
And The Cradle Will Rock
Pittsburgh will employ the "step back to take two steps forward" mentality after a weekend that saw Chargers QB Phillip Rivers decimate Curtis Brown on third downs, helping the Chargers score the upset in Pittsburgh. Still, Rivers lost most battles en route to winning the war. Brown's inexperience in preparation held him back but that's not a mistake he'll make again - not in his home state. The younger players of the Steelers' roster saw what happens when preparation is less than exact; they will draw on the experience from the veterans of this team.
Cowboys right tackle Doug Free has struggled this season having moved from the left side. Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is back for the first time since early in Week 12. It's time for Woodley to get himself some. He can overpower Free and he can get into the side of the passer. He'll have plenty of opportunity, given how often Dallas throws the ball, and the key on defense today will be Woodley's ability to wear Free down as the game progresses.
Let's not forget James Harrison, either. While Dallas certainly can make a claim for having the best combination of outside linebackers, Harrison is still the most outstanding of the four against the run. His surgically repaired knee is coming back into form, and his flexibility and lower body strength are the biggest reasons for that.
Sunday Afternoon In The Park
The Steelers have played plenty of these kinds of games recently; season more or less on the line, needing a win in what's basically a regular season playoff game. The pressure is more on Dallas, though. It's the team trailing the wild card race, and needing a win to keep pace with the Giants in the hunt for the divisional crown. The Steelers need two wins in their next three games, provided one of those wins comes over Cincinnati next week. It doesn't trivialize today's game at all (they still need a win), but Dallas can still win out and miss the postseason.