clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Know Your Steelers Enemy: Week 3 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles

It isn't just the battle of Pennsylvania, it is the battle of undefeated teams as the 2-0 Steelers travel to play the 2-0 Eagles. Get to know the enemy before kickoff.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

For only playing one another every four years, the two NFL squads from the Keystone state have quite a rivalry.  It's natural to want supremacy in your own state. Despite the Steelers having the upper hand due to boasting six rings, Philadelphia owns the all-time rivalry at a mark of 46-28-3. Based on the current scheduling system in the NFL, the Steelers would have to win every game the two play for the next 76 years to gain the advantage. Probably unlikely. However, the Steelers could start that road on Sunday by doing something that they haven't done since 1965. That is to win in Philadelphia. Although the Steelers are road-favorites, this is a tough place to play and they face a hot rookie QB and a 2-0 squad.

Here are a few key players from Philadelphia that stand in the way of the Steelers breaking that 51-year hex.

QB-No. 11 Carson Wentz

When facing rookie quarterbacks since 2004, the Steelers sport a 19-2 mark which is the best in the National Football League. Enter Carson Wentz, the next big thing. The second-overall pick in the 2016 draft, The rookie from North Dakota State has fared well in both of his starts that ended in wins. According to Pro Football Focus, Wentz is actually their highest-ranked signal caller through two games, with a 90.8/100 score. Wentz, with a body-style similar to Ben Roethlisberger, has a completion percentage of 60.6%, while throwing for 468 yards and no interceptions. But that has been against two 0-2 teams, Cleveland and Chicago. The Steelers will offer Wentz his toughest test to date and despite the pass rush being subdued so far, are expected to employ schemes to pressure and confuse No. 11.

S- No. 23 Rodney McLeod and S- No. 27 Malcolm Jenkins

Jenkins and McLeod make up one of the best tandems of safeties in the NFL and they will have to be. With Leodis McKelvin injured in Week 1, the cornerback position is in disarray for Philadelphia. Jenkins, a former corner who is adept at keeping up with speedy receivers and still spends some time in the slot, is regarded as one of the best safety-men in the league. The thumper McLeod is also regarded by PFF as a top-10 safety and has forced 12 turnovers his three seasons in the league. With a rookie, Jalen Mills, starting in the slot, this duo is going to need to offer plenty of help defending Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers.

RB- No. 24 Ryan Matthews

Matthews, a hard runner with a good burst, has been practicing with a wrapped ankle this week, but is expected to play. The Fresno State Bulldog alum has run for 109 yards on the season and is averaging 3.5 yards a carry. But in a  shared role with Darren Sproles, rushing attempts continue to be sparse for Matthews. Last week, he scored two touchdowns on only nine carries against Chicago in short-yardage situations. The former Charger has three on the year. The Steelers are second-best against the rush by allowing an average of 50.5 YPG and may be a tough task for Matthews and the Phily rush attack.

RB- No. 43 Darren Sproles

Really. Yes. Sproles is still very dangerous is in the open field and you saw the damage that Gio Bernard was able to inflict on the Steeler defense on receptions out of the backfield. Sproles is averaging 8.0 yards per catch and the 33-year-old still needs to be accounted for. As a returner on ST, the diminutive Sproles is still a world beater. If Sproles finds himself alone in the open field, it's trouble.

LT- No. 71 Jason Peters

The eight-time selection for the Pro Bowl and six-time All-Pro is, at 34, is still one of the league's best at protecting the quarterback's blind side. He is the anchor of the offensive line that needs to protect their young QB at all cost. After an injury-plagued 2015, Peters may be starting to decline. With RT Lane Johnson, who has been the team's strongest lineman in 2016, most likely starting a 10-game ban in Week 4...Peters needs to reemerge as the leader of the line.  Expect to see Jarvis Jones and James Harrison challenge Peters all afternoon long.

WR- No. 81 Jordan Matthews

The 6'3" receiver spends a majority of the time lined up in the slot and is Philadelphia's biggest pass-catching threat. With 17 catches, the #12-ranked receiver in yardage has 185 on the year and will test the Steeler secondary. But his ranking would have been considerably higher, had he not let a 35-yard pass clank off of his mitts in the end zone in Chicago. QB Wentz has targeted Matthews 23 times so far on the season and the pair are developing quite a rapport with one another.

TE- No. 87 Brent Celek

While it seems that the Steelers get a break here due to the expected absence of TE Zach Ertz, Brent Celek is an accomplished TE in this league and could give the Steelers fits over the middle. Sure he has only one catch for 11 yards on the year, but he may prove to be a valuable safety valve for the rook.

DT- No. 91 Fletcher Cox

Cox is probably the finest defender that the Eagles have to offer. With new DC Jim Schwartz liking to blitz early and often, Cox will get a chance to greatly improve on his 9.5 sacks of a year ago. The Pro Bowl defender will face off against fellow Pro-Bowler and 2012 round-one selection, David Decastro. That will probably prove to be one of the best matchups of the day.

Other Notable Names to look out for:

HC Doug Pederson, OC Frank Reich, DC Jim Schwartz, No. 6 K Caleb Sturgis, No. 8 P Donnie Jones, No. 17 WR Nelson Agholor, No. 22 CB Nolan Carroll. 31 CB Jalen Mills, No. 53 LB Nigel Bradham, No. 55 DE Brandon Graham, No. 65 T Lane Johnson, No. 76 G Allen Barbre, No. 98 DE Connor Barwin