It’s week six already, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their talents to South Beach (sorry couldn’t resist) for an afternoon. The Steelers are on a bit of a roll, winning back to back games after getting embarrassed in Philadelphia in week three. The Steelers did not fall into their annual trap this year by losing to a lesser team (the Jets) in week five. Don’t look now, but this game in Miami qualifies as another potential trap game. I’m about to walk through how they can avoid that pitfall or step right into it.
Why the Steelers will win: Big Freakin’ Ben! Along with lots of help from his offensive line and the other two members of the 2016 triplets, Ben Roethlisberger is having an MVP caliber season. If Ben is as dialed in and focused as he has been the last two weeks, he’s going to deliver a win for the Steelers. He’s reading defenses, putting faith in his receivers and offensive line, and making plays. His post-touchdown celebratory fist pump is almost stoic lately, as it’s just another day at the office for #7 and he’s all ready looking for the next play.
The Standard is the Standard. There’s plenty being said and written all ready about the next man up and how the entire roster seems to have bought into the concept that Mike Tomlin preaches, and for good reason. Despite a laundry list of injuries these last couple of weeks, the men who have stepped in and stepped up for their injured team mates have performed well and there has been very little drop-off in performance. Much of this due to coaching, particularly from offensive line coach Mike Munchak. We’re down to our third string right tackle? No problem. Ryan Shazier is hurt (again)? No problem. Robert Golden is out? We gotcha covered Coach T! The mantra that Mike Tomlin has preached since his hire as head coach is followed by all the men who wear the black and gold. If this practice continues in week six, the Steelers get a win.
Why the Dolphins will win: Lack of focus. Yes, I acknowledge that this game has “trap game” written all over it. The Dolphins have been so abysmal this season that they cut two starters along their offensive line, their high priced free agent cornerback (Byron Maxwell) was benched for performance reasons, and this week they called out the play and effort of defensive end Mario Williams. This sort of dysfunction sounds more like the Jets locker room from a few years ago, and there is a common thread in the front office.
All this being said, if the Steelers as a team do not keep their focus on this week, this team, this game, they could fall into the same trap that has haunted Tomlin’s teams since 2007. They need to take Miami seriously and stay the course. Yes, Miami is struggling to find their identity and win games, but they still are an NFL franchise with some talent on the roster. If the Steelers try to rest on their past successes or start peeking into week seven against New England, the Dolphins will make them pay. Names like Ryan Tannehill, Arian Foster, Williams and Maxwell can all make plays. I’m sure Coach Tomlin is preaching all of that this week. If the team buys in like they have most of this season, then they go home 5-1. If they do not, Miami hands them another embarrassing loss. It won’t matter the score; losing to Miami will be embarrassing.
To summarize, I can say that I believe the Steelers keep their eye on the prize and get this win. A focused Steelers game day roster should be able to hang 30-plus on Miami while keeping the dolphins from matching their point total. If the focus is not there, they will lose this game.