Stillers - Iggles Preview
Pittsburgh faces what amounts to a must win game if they want to have a shot at the playoffs. It's funny to say a must win game comes against a non-conference opponent in the 10th game of the season, but it's a fact. A loss puts the Stillers at 5-5 which drops them from the hunt. A win though, puts the team at 6-4 and gives them an outside shot at a wild card berth.
Both teams have been struggling offensively while both teams have tough defenses. Offensively, the Iggles have been able to move the ball over the last three games (averaging a bit over 280 yds/game) but are averaging a pitiful 12 points per game. Pittsburgh on the other hand has been downright bad in both categories during the last three games - averaging only 215 yards/game and 12.7 points/game.
Let's quickly compare the teams' offensive and defensive stats overall and over the past three games:
|Overall (Last 3)
|Overall (last 3)
|Overall (Last 3)
|Overall (Last 3)
Statistically, it's quite apparent what the strengths and weaknesses of both teams are, especially over the last three games.
Pittsburgh must find a way to kick its offense in gear Sunday. They are slumping in unimaginable ways. Having 215 yards/game over the last three games is putting much too much pressure on the defense. As such, the offense needs to find a way to move the sticks and chew up some clock. The Iggles can be susceptible to the run, so Gilbride must find a way to get the ground game clicking. Ball control offense is the name of the game, but that is only possible if you actually call running plays, so Kevin, are ya listenin'? Since the air attack is not clicking, the field needs to be spread through other means. The ground game could be aided tremendously by designed runs for Kordell to get him out of the pocket early and often. If Kordell will also throw on the run, the Iggle defense will be forced to modify their game plan and Pittsburgh just might be able to get the Bus rolling before the midway point of the third quarter.
Philly's offense, in terms of yardage, has not slumped horrible, but they are not scoring points. This trend may just continue since they are facing a 3-4 defense which they have not seen all year. If Porter and (dare I say his name?) Gildon can come up with big games - meaning 1) QB pressure and 2) QB containment - then Philly will likely struggle again. If McNabb is not contained though, will the defense be able to limit the big play and buckle down in the redzone as they have of late? McNabb's strengths are similar to McNair's, but he's younger and more likely to make young mistakes - by pressuring the young QB early, he can be rattled and forced into errors. This is apparent through his 11 INT's this year.
Pittsburgh's defense needs to maintain their focus, contain McNabb (as mentioned before) and swarm to the ball. By aggressively attacking a struggling Philly offense, they might just break their confidence early. Also, as in games past, it's critical to avoid the big play which could hand confidence to an offensive unit looking to get back on track.
Philly, like Pittsburgh, has an aggressive defense. They're have monsters named DE Hugh Douglas (13 friggin' sacks!!!) and rookie DT Corey Simon (5.5 sacks). 5.5 sacks from a rookie DT is a telling number...this guy is not just plugging gaps, so Rich Tylski had better be on top of his game. They also have solid, veteran DB's in Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent - another reason to use Stewart's strength, his legs, to get the Iggles D thinking.
Keys to the game:
- Spread the Philly defense through spread formations and early designed runs and rollouts for Stewart.
- Avoid stupid mistakes on offense. (Kordell, take the sack, don't try your recent dumbass throw downfield with six guys dragging you to the ground)
- Attack, attack, attack Donovan McNabb and the Philly offense.
Based on player interviews I've heard, Pittsburgh's entire team seems to be focused despite the big loss to the Titans. Coming back to Three Rivers will provide the boost needed to get the team back on track, the offense will minimize mistakes and overcome Dawson's injury and the defense will again win a game for the Black 'n Gold. Pittsburgh 20-14.