The Pittsburgh Steelers had a rough beginning to the 2013 season, but now they have bounced back in a nice way and are primed for an upset of the favored Detroit Lions on Sunday.
Just a month ago it appeared that Father Time had finally caught up to this bunch after an 0-4 start. Since then however this veteran ball club has gone 3-2 and if it can string a few wins together there is a chance that the playoffs could become a realistic possibility.
The next obstacle in the way of a Pittsburgh Steelers win streak are the Detroit Lions, who will enter play at 6-3 and the leaders of the NFC North.
At first glance one would think that the Lions would easily defeat the Steelers, however there are several factors that tip the scale in favor of the underdog in this contest.
The first is not a statistic showing how the Steelers are better than the Lions, but rather a situational factor. The letdown performance is a distinct possibility for the Lions following their huge win over the Bears on the road a week ago. That win was a nail-biter that took until the final seconds to determine a victor. With the win they were able to carve out a one game lead in their division over both the Bears and Packers.
As we have seen time and time in the NFL, such an emotional victory can work against a team the following week. The letdown is always something to be wary of in this league.
The Lions have already suffered two letdowns this year. After a week one divisional victory over the Vikings, they dropped a game to the Cardinals the following week. Their first victory over the Bears was followed up with a dud of a performance in Lambeau against the Packers. Detroit is primed for a Steelers upset.
Just in case you’re a statistic aficionado, here’s a nice morsel of evidence to support my claim that the Steelers will upset Detroit. The Pittsburgh Steelers are incredibly good against the NFC when playing at Heinz Field. Since the stadium opened, the Steelers are 21-3-1 at home against foes from the other conference. They’ve blown them out too, with a total score of 653-391 in those contests.
In order to continue that trend, Pittsburgh will need stellar performances from both Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu to shut down (or at least limit) Calvin Johnson’s output. No one can stop him, but if they can keep him from finding open field, mission accomplished.
Stopping Reggie Bush and Joique Bell in the running game shouldn’t be a huge concern, although the Lions have had a very good rushing attack this season the Steelers have been just as good at containing opponents in their victories. In victories over the New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, and Buffalo Bills they were able to hold the opposition to under 100 yards total rushing. In case you were wondering, those are three darn good rushing teams.
There is little doubt the Pittsburgh Steelers will put up enough points to win this game, the onus will be on their defense to limit the Lions scoring. Detroit’s defense has not been strong this season, allowing at least 20 points in all but two games over the year. That includes giving up 25 points to the Arizona Cardinals less than potent offense.
This upset won’t be pretty, and it won’t come easy. This is going to be a grind-it-out affair that will take all of the Steelers will power, however at the end of the day the Lions will find a way to lose this game. Lets just hope Mike Tomlin doesn’t shake Jim Schwartz hand too hard after the game.
Prediction: Steelers 24, Lions 23