This week the 1-0 Stillers, fresh from squeaking out a W over Tennessee in OT, travel to Chi-town to meet the 0-1 Bears, who managed to squeeze a L from the tightly puckered sphincter of one Jay Cutler in his first start since his departure from Denver.
When we are on Offense
PGH O-Line vs CHI Front 7 - The shortcomings of this rendition of the Stillers Offensive Line are well documented on this site. The match up to watch here is #93 Ogunleye vs The Colon. If the Colon blows, BR7 is in for a long and painful day. The other 3 DL, Harris, Adams, and Brown, while solid, are not the type to strike fear in opposing offenses. With Urlacher out, Lance Briggs is the only linebacker with any pedigree worth mentioning. He's been to 4 straight Pro-Bowls and is an all around solid linebacker. Taking Urlacher's spot in the middle is Hunter Hillenmeyer... a special teams guy who gets to play with the big boys for a change. If the O-Line can manage a stalemate here, there is a good chance for some holes to open up in the running game. Only time will tell if FWP and Mendy can hit those holes before they close. The Bears do not rely heavily on blitzing to get QB pressure. Instead, they tend to run more stunts along the line. This, as we know, tends to leave the O-line more confused than a pimple-faced 14 yr old trying to undo his first bra strap. Ever wonder how our O-line looks so much better in the no-huddle... it's because the Def. Coord. can't call D-Line stunts. If Arians can manage to go No Huddle when it is NOT expected, we should produce points. Advantage Bears
PGH WR & TE vs CHI Secondary - The Bears play a lot of Cover-2. From watching them play vs the Packers last week, they tend to allow receivers to get open deep more often than most Cover-2 teams. Expect to see BR7 using the same number of pump fakes this week to try to get people open deep. I really like Wallace's chance of snagging a big play in this manner. The Bears get Zack Bowman back into the starting lineup for the first time since October last year. He showed promise as a rookie only to end up on IR in his 1st and only game. They are starting a rookie in Afalava at SS. This gives them 2 starters who are making their 2nd NFL start. They need to be attacked early and often. They should not be allowed to get into the flow of the game or feel comfortable at any point. Heath Miller needs to be used as more than Tackle Eligible in the pass game, as he was last week. Advantage Stillers
When we are on Defense
CHI O-Line vs PGH Front 7 - Olin Kreutz anchors an average O-line that also includes the likes of Orlando Pace. These guys struggled to open holes against Green Bay, who are in their 1st season of switching to the 3-4 defense. It stands to reason that they won't get any better at blocking a 3-4 front in 7 days, especially an established 3-4. Matt Forte is no slouch at RB. We must tackle him well to prevent yards after contact. Likewise, in the passing game, this same front line had even more trouble. Heavy pressure on Cutler force several bad throws and 4 picks. On one 3 play stretch, Cutler's first 2 tosses should have been picked, and the last was picked. All were the result of quick pressure. Bottom line here is that Cutler does not like to be hit. Please Dick, no velcro blitzes. Defense needs to be aware of screens and reverses in an attempt to get Hester and Forte out in space. Advantage Stillers
CHI WR & TE vs PGH Secondary - The Bears have quite possibly the least respected starting WR tandem in the league. Devon Hester is a beast in the return game but has never proven himself as a reliable threat on offense. Earl Bennett is Dallas Baker of the Bears, with the only difference being that he starts. The real threat here is the TE Olsen. He is Cutler's security blanket and should NOT be allowed to roam free in the secondary. This should be a light day for the Stillers secondary, especially if Cutler is NOT permitted to set his feet and survey the field. Ty Carter needs to be a Ball Hawk this week in Polamalu�s absence. Advantage Stillers
Stefan Logan & Daniel Sepulveda give the Stillers the edge in the field position game if the offenses are both out to lunch this week. As much as Reed gets credit for being the best kicker at the Heinz cow pasture, Robbie Gould deserves serious props for being the all time best kicker at Soldier Field. The real threat here, as mentioned above is Devon Hester. He must be contained in every kicking situation. Sepulveda should be pinning him to a sideline on every kick. If possible, Reed needs to kick away from him or squib it. These tactics may seem cheap, but if we kick it down the middle, he is a serious threat to take one to the house. PUSH
Keys to Victory
1. Keep Pressure on Cutler - If the D shows up nasty, aggressive and hungry, we should have 5+ sacks or 2+ INTs and a victory.
2. Kick Away from Devon Hester - As mentioned above, he must not be allowed the opportunity to beat us in the return game.
3. Attack the Chicago Secondary � Pump fakes and PAP should bait these young DBs into some bad plays. Attack early and often.
Prediction � Stillers 27, Bears 13