Oftentimes an issue comes out of the fact the opposing team's best player is a quarterback - it's hard to grab the opposing team's best quarterback, considering it isn't exactly much of an upgrade over the guy the Steelers have.
But it's impossible to discuss the New Orleans Saints without talking about Drew Brees.
Brees isn't having his best season, so he's only several steps above average. It seems, based on viewing a few games, he's forcing the ball downfield a bit more than he normally would, and he's shown the propensity to lean on a supreme (and justified) faith in his arm strength at times in his career. That's the biggest knock on him and he's still completing close to 70 percent of his passes.
When all is said and done, Brees may end up the most accurate passer in NFL history. As New Orleans works to rebuild what once was as dangerous an offense in the league (still is, by and large), Brees will have to be content with just a 98 passer-rating instead of 115.
Must be rough.
Outside of him, defensive end Cameron Jordan really stands out. Strong against the run, he'd fill a nice role among the Steelers' 5-techniques up front. It opens things up for Junior Galette, a solid edge player who's come from nowhere to signing a $41 million contract extension. He still has a high ceiling too.
Jairus Byrd is a play-making safety who, minus injuries, is always among the best at his position, but he's out for the year now. Then, of course, there's ex-Steelers cornerback Keenan Lewis. Can't say I'd mind him wearing the right shade of gold in this game and beyond. The financial aspect of the game can't be ignored, however. Maybe he can help Cortez Allen snap out of his funk with a pep talk before the game or something (Allen won't play Sunday due to a surgically repaired thumb).
Overall, the Saints aren't playing well on the defensive side of the ball. The pickings are decent in terms of individual players, it's just a group that hasn't come together yet. Sounds oddly familiar. Offensively, where the Saints have thrived during the better part of the last decade, the pickings aren't much better.
Except for the one guy who presents the biggest mismatch heading into Sunday's game; Saints "tight end" Jimmy Graham.
The Saints and Graham can argue until they're black-and-gold in the face about what position he plays. He catches the ball down the seam and in the end zone. He has amazing athleticism, body control and good hands. He blocks about as well as a guy a quarter of his size, but put the ball in the air and he's got a chance at it.
Finding packages in which the Steelers could utilize Graham in the slot with Antonio Brown on the opposite side and Le'Veon Bell in the backfield, giving Ben Roethlisberger the option to flex him out to either side, would be fun to watch. Ben would drool.
Right now, Graham would be our pick. What say you?