After missing the playoffs in 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers will fall to 0-3 to open up this season when they host the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football in Week 3.
Chicago is coming off of two straight wins to open up the season under rookie head coach Marc Trestman.
Which team will win?
Jay Cutler has looked better this year under Trestman's guiding hand than he has since his 2008 campaign with the Denver Broncos—especially late in games. He's getting the ball out quicker and establishing a rapport with tight end Martellus Bennett and second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Matt Forte is also reaping the benefit of playing for Trestman, catching 15 passes in his first two games.
Julius Peppers and the rest of the Bears defenders have done a fabulous job at the line of scrimmage early this year, holding Adrian Peterson to 3.8 yards per carry in Week 1 and shutting down the rushing attack of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2.
Chicago's defense has only registered two sacks this year, but this unit will feast this Sunday night against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh's performances in its first two games have been embarrassing—especially on offense. Ben Roethlisberger hasn't been able to get on the same page with his receivers, and the team's rushing attack has been laughably bad.
In two games, Steelers running backs have gained just 75 yards on 31 carries with zero touchdowns. For those keeping score at home, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has rushed for 114 yards in his first three games of the season.
But this poor play isn't a reflection of poor effort.
Injuries have decimated Pittsburgh's roster, and this is a team lacking the necessary depth to overcome them.
Before the season even began, second-round running back Le'Veon Bell suffered a foot injury, and he's still out of action heading into Week 3. Then, making matters worse, LaRod Stephens-Howling was lost for the season with a torn ACL.
Perhaps even more disruptive and damaging to Pittsburgh's offense was the loss of All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, who was lost for the season in Week 1 when he tore his ACL and MCL after getting rolled up under fellow offensive lineman David DeCastro.
These injuries have proven devastating to the Steelers—the offense has been crippled without Bell, Stephens-Howling and Pouncey.
Pittsburgh's defense is always one of the league's best in terms of keeping teams from racking up yardage and scoring touchdowns, and it should keep the Steelers in this game early on at home. But Cincinnati was able to get things going in the second half last week, totaling 407 yards in the game.
The Bears will have plenty of chances to move the ball on offense this week, given the struggles of Pittsburgh's offense. Devin Hester is always a threat to score on special teams, as well.
Cutler, Forte, Brandon Marshall and the rest of the playmakers for Chicago will wear down Pittsburgh's defense in the second half while Roethlisberger and his offense stagnates.
The Bears will easily win this road contest.
Final Score Prediction
Bears win 31-17
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