The Steelers take their 10-game home-opener winning streak into Sunday as the Jets invade Heinz Field, looking to start the year 2-0.
There are a lot of good match-ups across both rosters, and it should make for a competitive game. There are a few things the Steelers will need to do to ensure a victory, and with the possibility of being without strong safety Troy Polamalu and outside linebacker James Harrison (for the second consecutive game), that task could be that much more difficult.
The Steelers must prevent the big play
This come from pass rush and full coverage. The Bills, New York's Week 1 victim, allowed quarterback Mark Sanchez to escape the pocket far too often, and didn't remain disciplined in coverage. Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill scored twice, both on big plays. The Steelers must contain both Hill and WR Santonio Holmes to remain in contention in this game.
QB Ben Roethlisberger must recognize - not anticipate - the coverage in the secondary
The Jets are as devious as they come in the NFL, and could have one of the best secondaries in the league. While cornerback Darrelle Revis may not play due to a concussion he sustained in Week 1, the scheme they run is still confusion and geared toward creating turnovers. Roethlisberger must protect the ball and take shots down the field in measured doses.
Defend the run
Seems simple enough, but the Jets did a great job of showing consistently they will run the ball. The motion they used, along with the willingness to smash the ball between the tackles, drew Buffalo's safeties in and helped Sanchez identify mismatches in coverage. They used that well, and had a strong passing game. Expect them to do much of the same.
Get Jonathan Dwyer involved
The simple act of calling plays for Dwyer won't cure what ails the Steelers running game, but it's a good start. Dwyer has run well in every game - preseason and regular - he's played so far, and they will need to get both he and the offensive line in rhythm to help prevent the Jets' defense from dictating the tempo of the game.
Force the Jets into third and long situations
The Steelers' defense is predicated on their ability to stop the run, to prevent big plays and bring serious heat on third and long. They struggled to force the Broncos into third and long situations, and you may see the Jets trying to duplicate Denver's success in passing on second down because of that. The Steelers need to clamp down and force those longer situations, when they can get after Sanchez in the pocket and force him into mistakes.