The Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) welcome the New York Jets (1-0) to the home opener at Heinz Field on Sunday, September 15, 2012. The Steelers and Jets will both be without their game-changing secondary stars as S Troy Polamalu (calf) and CB Darelle Revis (concussion) are not expected to play. Quarterback terrorist, LB James Harrison, is also out for the Steelers, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac. Despite missing these key players, the Steelers will still delight the home fans with a convincing victory. Here's how:
Steelers Receivers Take Advantage
With both secondaries losing their best players, it is the Steelers who are more likely to be able to exploit the weakness. With the "young money" receivers (Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders) all healthy, Ben Roethlisberger will have plenty of targets working against the Jets' more inexperienced corners. And, TE Heath Miller should have some success against the slower linebackers in the middle of the field. WR Jerricho Cotchery may have a little something for his old team, too. The Jets have former Steeler, Santonio Holmes, a very good route runner. Then they have rookie speedster Stephen Hill and second year WR Jeremy Kerley. While both scored TDs last week, they will find the Steelers' secondary much more daunting than the Buffalo Bills'.
The Jets got zero sacks against Ryan Fitzpatrick last week even though he attempted 32 passes. The Steelers offensive line, though much-maligned, should give Roethlisberger plenty of time to find these receivers, too. They will need LT Max Starks to be fully recovered from a mid-week illness, though.
Speed and Variety From the Running Backs
C.J. Spiller ripped the Jets for 169 yards on just 14 carries last week. The Bills were playing from behind, but Spiller's speed caused problems for the Jets. While the Steelers' presumed starter, Isaac Redman, is basically a power back, the Steelers have more variety at tail back than they have had for several years. Johnathan Dwyer, who could start after demonstrating he was the best back last Sunday night, will get more time this week. He has power and a sneaky burst. Then there is the "flash" back, Chris Rainey. He has speed and moves to burn. I expect to see a few more plays designed for him to test the Jets' speed and ability to tackle in space. Either Dwyer or Rainey could explode for a long TD this week.
Jets Can't Run, Play-action Less Effective
Jets' running back Shonn Greene is a pedestrian plodder. The Jets will try to establish him early and then work off play-action. However, the Steelers stalwart defense will be ready. After playing a full game, NT Casey Hampton will control the middle of the line. Greene will be held under three yards per carry. The Jets will have to try and throw to move the ball effectively. When they become one dimensional, the Steelers will be able to use their exotic blitz packages (even without Polamalu) to get pressure on Sanchez. He will suffer his first few sacks of the season. The Jets will not be scoring 48 points this Sunday.
Steelers fans will be nervous about a potential 0-2 start without their two defensive superstars on Sunday afternoon. However, the Jets are also without a great defender. With an elite QB finding a deeper group of receivers, it will be the Steelers who prevail, 31-10. Here we go Steelers, here we go!
Sean Durity is a Terrible Towel twirling Steelers fan living in Atlanta. He grew up cheering the 1970s dynasty and appreciates the organization's excellence even more as an adult. Follow him on Twitter @SeanDurity
More from this contributor:
Craig Gottschalk, "Know Thy Enemy: Steelers vs. Jets" nicepickcowher.com
Cian Fahey, "Pittsburgh Steelers: What Exactly Do the Steelers Lose with Troy Polamalu Out?" Bleacher Report
Bills at Jets box score and highlights, nfl.com