Stillers - Jets Preview
The upcoming game is big for the Black 'n Gold. If the team can escape with a win, it is possible for them to be 4-3 with Cinci and Cleveland up the following two weeks. Not only would that install confidence in the team, it would regain the fans' confidence as well....and that would be huge in returning home field advantage at home.
Let's review the teams:
Without question, New York has the better of the two defenses. The Stillers have the NFL's 16th ranked defense overall; 4th against the run, 26th against the pass. New York is 8th overall; 7th against the run, 9th against the pass (how about that for all-around consistency). The Stillers have given up only 78 rushing yds/game while the Jets have given up 90 rushing yds/game -- both very formidable numbers. On the pass though, the Stillers give up 245 yds/game while the Jets are holding foes to 184 yds/game. The Jets clearly have the edge coming in, so the Stillers, and defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, need to build on last week's effort.
Both offenses are similarly ranked although each team has opposite strengths. The Stillers, with Bettis and Fu, are stronger running the ball; 14th overall, 7th rushing and 23rd passing. The Jets, with Chrebet, Ward and Martin, are more effective throwing; 11th overall, 10th passing and 22nd rushing. Where the Jets are stronger passing, the Stillers are stronger running. The offensive edge goes to the Jets. Curtis Martin is highly underrated and if Interceptaverde avoids mistakes, he can be fairly effective.
The Stillers have made too many mistakes on special teams which gives the Jets the easy edge. Don't count out the Stillers return team though. Poteat is lethal and likely to run one back the distance before the season's over.
Keys to the Game
- Jump on the Jets early. This is especially true defensively...Vinny tends to perform poorly if bounced around and rattled early in games.
- Loosen the Jets defense. NY's defense will assuredly be stacking the line regardless of who starts at QB. If Kordell plays, they'll run blitz and dare the Stillers to pass. If Graham starts, NY will bring the dogs to get a shot on his sore hip. To alleviate pressure at the line of scrimmage, the offense needs to get the passing game going early with high-percentage, quick-hitting passes.
- Eliminate the big play. Pittsburgh has been killed by the big play in all but last week's contest...and all but last week's contest have been losses.
Once again, the Stillers have the X-Factor in their favor. Last week, the Stillers were lucky enough to face a Jacksonville team that was coming off a short week and unable to get outta the blocks early (at all for that matter). This week, the Jets, are coming off a bye week. Since teams frequently start slowly after a having an extra week of rest, the Stillers may just find that they can capitalize early against NY.
Despite the Jets' clear edge on paper. I think the week off which slows their momentum countered by the Stillers progress and growing confidence will be the deciding factor. Not to mention, Vinny is 2-8 versus the Stillers in his last 10 tries. These factors and the fact the Pittsburgh is playing on the road where they have been somewhat respectable all add up to a Stillers victory. Pittsburgh wins 24-23.