Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh: What we can expect

The Bears are coming off a thriller against Minnesota and Pittsburgh is coming off a loss to the Orange-cats of Cincinnati.  2 weeks behind us and the Steelers are already facing a very pivotal game as falling to 0-3 this early in the season could prove to be too much of a hole to climb out of.  The Bears find themselves at the top of the NFC North heading into week 3.  So what can we expect from these two as they square off on Sunday Night Football?

For the Steelers:  The recipe for success against the Bears lies in field position and the turnover battle.  Offensively, Todd Haley has probably put the troops on notice … for a variety of reasons.  First, the Pitt. offense has been dreadful, the running game is stuck in neutral, Big Ben has only thrown for two TD’s and he’s completing less than 60% of his passes, and they have a turnover ratio of -4.

As I mentioned before, the recipe for success against the Bears lies in field position and turnovers, this has been the case for quite some time as that defense in Chicago is an absolute monster!  Roethlisberger must protect the ball and know when to take a sack or throw the ball away.  Also, Pitt is 7 for 25 on 3rd down conversions … if you give Chicago too many short-field you have no chance against them.  Look for Todd Haley to implement plenty of play action to open up some throwing lanes for Big Ben to get him going early; from there, the Steelers must remain two-dimensional on offense if they’re going to have a chance.

The Bears find themselves right in the middle of the pack offensively after the 1st two weeks.  Cutler has been completing just under 68% of his passes and has 5 TD’s and 3 picks in the first two weeks.  He continues to find Marshall in the passing game who’s once again off to a fast start.  In the run game, Forte has been decently effective but his real contribution comes in the passing game.  Forte continues to be one of the best receiving backs in the league; he’s a threat regardless of where he lines up on the field.  Look for Chicago to try to chip away with the ground game and short passing game to open up the down field shots for Cutler.

Defensively, Dick LeBeau and the Steelers have been stout thus far, giving up an average of 318 yards a week.  LeBeau, often regarded as the mastermind behind the zone blitz, will most likely want to get after Cutler early and often as turnovers will be paramount this week for both sides.  This will be the first 3-4 defense the Bears have seen this year so look for the Steelers to throw in a few wrinkles early.

Final thoughts:

  • If Hester has a big day the Steelers are in trouble
  • Martellus Bennett is off to a quick start
  • If the Bears are +2 or higher in turnover margin the Steelers are in trouble
  • Pittsburgh must make Cutler and the offense deal with a long field
  • Big Ben needs a big day if they’re going to win
  • Will the Pittsburgh zone blocking scheme make an appearance this week?
  • Weather around kickoff will be in the low 50’s, 10% chance of rain, and little to no wind.

Prediction:  Bears 23 Steelers 16  

Big Ben and the offense just don’t have the firepower

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