Two Trains Running

Both teams come off of dominating performances in week one.<br><br> Both teams will be facing their first real challenge of the season.<br><br> Both teams are fast starters.

Steelers keys on offense

The Kansas City Chiefs will be sporting a greatly improved defensive line. Second year stand-out Ryan Sims is more polished and disruptive, this allowed six year pro Vonnie Holliday (now 290 pounds and moved to end) to sack Drew Brees three times in the first half last week. Holliday will probably be named AFC defensive player of the week. Further bolstering the so-called "weak" side of their defense was the acquisition of outside linebacker Shawn Barber.

This unit is closer to what you would expect from a Ravens defense than what we faced last week against the Ravens.

The Steelers have to come out winging the ball to quiet the crowd. I normally roll my eyes when I hear this stuff, but we have a situation in KC. They are having a historical "Remember every KC Chief that was ever worth salt, Hall-of-Fame commemoration and discharge party" or something, and the place will be a zoo. Offensive line and procedure penalties can ruin us.

The KC defense took advantage of the Chargers' slow start, putting them in a position where they knew they had to pass. Although KC has the personnel to key on a receiver like David Boston, they can't do that against Pittsburgh provided the Steelers are able to spread the field without hearing the count at Arrowhead Stadium.

We need the ability to convert to smash-mouth if the place gets out of control. Bettis is our most reliable runner and has been absolutely blowing up blitzers. Groin injury pending, start Bettis this week, and find a way to have Bruener active for the game. "Bring hot butter and carry a lemon just in case."

Steelers keys on defense

Dick Vermeil did it again. His offensive line is the foundation of his latest creation. Running back Priest Holmes caused more damage catching passes last week than he did breaking tackles. Combine Holmes with TE Gonzalez and we have a problem, either player is a mismatch for the "heady yet aged" Brent Alexander.

I don't want to start Polamalu, but I don't want Brent Alexander at FS even more. It is time to begin the experiment. We need Logan's cover ability and aggressiveness available to support Haggans and Washington. Troy is susceptible to the misdirection bite so I might try to "ride the nickel" or go man-to-man with my safeties, one on Holmes and the other on Gonzo.

No fan will be happier if we can somehow keep pressure on Trent Green, but anyone contending to hang their hat on this being done is probably never going to see that hat again. We might do better forcing coverage sacks. We need a bend but don't break defense, and Bell up the middle is always worth a shot.

Special Teams wish list

Kick-offs into the endzone
I haven't seen us strip the ball from a return man in an awfully long time, I'll settle for the touchbacks. Lord, has it come to this?

Chidi and Verron returning to form
Chidi made a nice one-on-one stamp last Sunday, and Haynes needs redemption.

Erik Flowers getting involved
Of course he has to be good enough to activate. You know, like the guy we cut to sign him?

Schneck making more tackles
It was great to see the ex-linebacker nail the punt returner last week. He actually justifies his roster spot when he does that.

Punts downed inside the five
We have the talent to do this. It's not like I'm asking this unit to score points like in the old days. I still miss Zooka.

A fan's look at the division thus far

Do we really call 1-0 a fast start? The good news is it's a start. We don't have enough games to quantify what kind of start we have yet. It's a quick beginning to a fast start. We need to win this game to preserve the quick beginning to our fast start. If we lose this game, all we have is a start.

Cleveland plays Baltimore; one of those teams is still going to be in reverse, while the other gets a start. There is nothing we can do about this as fans, other than rooting for a tie. Those are rare.

If you follow fast starts, you have a vested interest in Baltimore beating the snot out of Cleveland. We beat Baltimore, if they beat Cleveland we win the division out-right because Cincy is always in reverse. Rock smashes scissors before it can cut paper, right?

Fan keys for rooting the Steelers on this week

It's ok to dress loud with the light colored jerseys, but try and wear an offensive player's number if you can. That is where we need the most mojo.

Holding your breath when Maddox throws deep to Burress is good luck (It's been working for over a year now).

The Cleveland /Baltimore game has the potential for distraction this week, be coy about it. Try not to get caught peeking at the score of that game. We Stiller fans are big on controlling our own destiny. Remember, you're allowed to follow their game after the halftime show brings the subject up.

If the Ravens beat Cleveland, don't let others know we just won our division. This will expose your knowledge of quantum physics and people will expect you to be able to explain the defense, cover two, and things like that.

Drink smart, play it safe, be available to root next week.

Shawn Mitchell
SteelCitySports.com


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