Week 4: Vikings-Steelers matchup analysis

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3) vs. Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Wembley Stadium, London - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
*Keys to the game: The Steelers took their time getting to London, flying in Thursday night, but they can't get RB Le'Veon Bell onto the field at Wembley Stadium fast enough. Pittsburgh is averaging just 3.0 yards per carry and 51.7 yards per game on the ground, and the result has been QB Ben Roethlisberger battling for his life under constant pressure. The real culprit is the Steelers' poor offensive line play, so it remains to be seen if Bell can fare much better than Isaac Redman, Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer. Big Ben only needs a beat more time - Minnesota is allowing 315.7 passing yards per game and has just four sacks. Vikings QB Christian Ponder (ribs) is questionable, and with seven turnovers in three games Minnesota could play is safe and test out backup Matt Cassel. Pittsburgh's defense isn't as fearsome as years past, but is still allowing only 3.3 yards per carry so the Vikings have to find some semblance of a passing game to give RB Adrian Peterson a fighting chance to find a few running lanes.
*Matchup to watch - Steelers offensive tackles vs. Vikings DEs Jared Allen and Brian Robison: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has been so disheartened by the play of OTs Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams that swing backup Kelvin Beachum is expected to continue to rotate in at both spots. Allen and Robinson each have only one sack through the first three games.
*Player spotlight - Vikings RB Adrian Peterson: His first carry of the season went for 78 yards and a touchdown. Peterson has averaged just 3.0 yards on his next 69 carries and needs to average 163.9 over the final 13 games to reach his stated goal of 2,500.
*Fast facts: This will be Tomlin's 100th career game as Pittsburgh coach. He has a 64-36 record. ... Ponder has started 29 consecutive regular-season games.
The Steelers took an unorthodox approach by not arriving in London until Friday morning. At least they brought a healthy RB Le'Veon Bell on the plane with them. Even a smattering of help from the ground game will allow QB Ben Roethlisberger to exploit the Vikings' struggling secondary.
*Our pick: Steelers 23-19

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