Pittsburgh Steelers: 4 X-Factors Primed for Huge Week 4 Performances
The Steelers are 0-3 for the first time since 2000. They'll head to London this week to take on another 0-3 team in the Minnesota Vikings.
Buckle up folks, somebody has to win this one.
The Steelers showed flashes of a competitive team in Week 3, but turnovers derailed what could have been a big comeback. With the Vikings now in their sights, let's look at four guys who could have a monster game in London.
Antonio Brown, WR
Last year, the Steelers opted to pay receiver Antonio Brown over Mike Wallace. Wallace bolted in free agency, leaving Brown as the team's new No. 1 receiver. He showed off his ability against the Bears.
Brown had a huge game, hauling in nine passes from Ben Roethlisberger for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He also made some ridiculous grabs, as you can see in the video below.
Minnesota is 28th in the NFL against the pass and has only recorded four sacks on the season. Brown is the Steelers' best weapon with the ball in his hands, and they did a great job getting it to him against Chicago. Put those two together, and you've got a recipe for success.
The Vikings will line up Josh Robinson and Chris Cook at corner this week. I like Brown's odds against both of those guys. Ben should find his top target early and often in Week 4.
Jarvis Jones, OLB
The Pittsburgh Steelers' once-vaunted pass rush is now a distant memory. Through three games this season, the Steelers have reeled in only three sacks, two from LaMarr Woodley.
Slowly but surely, rookie first-rounder Jarvis Jones has gotten more reps on the field. He's played well. In fact, Jones has been one of Pittsburgh's best defenders against the run, a trait he'll have to use this week against Adrian Peterson.
But Minnesota's offensive line has struggled in pass protection all year, allowing 10 sacks of Christian Ponder. Jones will be locked on second-year left tackle Matt Kalil, which isn't a terrific matchup. But Jones is too good of a pass-rusher to go this far into the season without a sack.
Jones should be heavily involved in the Steelers' game plan. That could transition into the rookie's first sack of his young NFL career.
Kelvin Beachum, OL
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin did something in the team's Week 3 game against Chicago that he should have done a while ago. He pulled one of his offensive linemen.
In the middle of the game, Tomlin pulled struggling right tackle Marcus Gilbert in favor of Kelvin Beachum. On the next series, Gilbert returned. But it was not Beachum who headed to the sidelines. It was left tackle Mike Adams.
Beachum is the Steelers' most versatile offensive lineman, having practiced and played all five line spots plus the tight end position. He's a natural run-blocker and is probably a better fit at guard than tackle.
It was nice to see the Steelers give Beachum a fair shot. With a good practice week, he could find himself in an offensive line rotation.
Pittsburgh has to get something going up front, and that could start with Beachum.
Heath Miller, TE
Minnesota's 29th-ranked defense has been pretty poor all around this season. But if there's one spot on the field the Vikings really haven't been able to contain, it's the tight ends.
As you can see on the chart below, opposing tight ends have found success against the Vikings defense, especially in the last two weeks.
|1||Joseph Fauria||Detroit Lions||3||27||0|
|2||Martellus Bennett||Chicago Bears||7||76||2|
|3||Jordan Cameron||Cleveland Browns||6||66||3|
stats via ESPN.com
In limited action in Week 3, Heath Miller was able to haul in three passes, and the Steelers had their most successful rushing game of the season. His impact was felt immediately.
Ben Roethlisberger loves to look for Miller when he's under duress, and that's more or less been every snap this season. If Miller is healthy, he should get plenty of targets. Big Ben should be thankful to have him back.
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