The last time the Steelers team was in Dallas was for Super Bowl XLV where the Green Bay Packers came out on top, 31-25. This will be the first regular season game that Pittsburgh has played in the new Cowboys Stadium. Both teams enter the game at 7-6, however Pittsburgh’s playoffs hopes are brighter because the number of good teams in the NFC dwarfs those in the AFC.
One short week ago, the Dallas Cowboys faced a tragedy of one of its team members tragically dying in a car accident. Jerry Brown lost his life in an early morning crash last Saturday as a result of teammate Josh Brent losing control of his vehicle in a single car accident on a suburban Dallas interstate. Brent has since been charged with intoxication manslaughter because his blood alcohol level was .18 (approximately twice the legal limit). The Cowboys rode an emotional wave last weekend by defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 20-19 with a late rally. These are two desperate teams fighting for playoff positions. It’s time to see who can execute to come out with the all-important victory.
Ten Fearless Predictions
1. Dez Bryant will play, but his effectiveness will be limited as a result of his broken finger, and superb man coverage by Keenan Lewis.
2. Pittsburgh’s running game will remain grounded. Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman will run behind yet another revamped offensive line. I have always heard that a cohesive unit is the key to an offensive line’s performance. There are simply too many shuffling parts with Willie Colon being done for the year. This injury will result in Ramon Foster moving from right guard to left guard, while David DeCastro will likely make his first NFL start at right guard after suffering a gruesome knee injury in the preseason.
3. DeMarco Murray will be an afterthought in Dallas’ attack. The Cowboys O-line has failed to open holes all year for a solid young running back. They rank dead last in the league in rushing. Pittsburgh’s run defense may not be as stout as it has been in years past, but the front seven will be adequate enough to bottle the Cowboys’ anemic running game.
4. For once, each of Pittsburgh’s front seven defenders are expected to start together as LaMarr Woodley will make a return to the starting lineup. The impact will be that Dick LeBeau will attempt to increase the pressure on Tony Romo to cover for the secondary’s deficiencies, with Ike Taylor’s hairline ankle fracture at least a week or two away from health.
5. After a lackluster effort in all phases last week, Pittsburgh will ride the strength of their gunslinger, Ben Roethlisberger’s arm. After missing 3.5 games, Big Ben showed some rust in the first half versus San Diego. He will be in better rhythm with his receivers this week against a young Cowboys secondary.
6. Jason Witten will be the primary target to take advantage of personnel matchups against slower, smaller linebackers like Larry Foote and James Harrison.
7. Similarly, Heath Miller will have a field day thanks to injuries at the middle linebacker position. Sean Lee and Bruce Carter are both out for the year. Big Ben would be wise to abuse this advantage over the middle of the field.
8. Pittsburgh will win the time of possession, but not by much. Dallas features a more vertical passing threat, while Pittsburgh prefers to take more time off the clock. The Steelers have slumped recently in third down production, which brings on the punt team prematurely. If Pittsburgh can return to its early season form, it could be a long day for the Dallas defense.
9. This contest will come down to which quarterback makes less mistakes. Neither running game will have much success and the scoreboard will show a lot of points and yards by game’s end. Whoever makes the last costly mistake will lose….and
10. I believe that Tony Romo will be the one that chokes last. Don’t forget his dreadful record in December / January. Steelers 27, Cowboys 24.
About the Author
Written by Rob Stroup
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so I have followed the Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) since the womb. It has become a tradition to make the yearly trek to a Steelers and Penguins game each year despite the distance. I hope to make writing a profession because I thoroughly enjoy attempting to paint a picture with words.