At 2-12, the Carolina Panthers sport the worst record in the NFL. The Panthers have yet to win a road game this season. The team is in disarray. Head Coach John Fox is likely to be unemployed at the end of the season. Carolina receiver Steve Smith has even put his Charlotte, NC home on the market, fueling speculation that he wants a new team next season.
While Carolina is the front-runner for the first pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, no team ever wants to lose. The Panthers are coming off of a win against the disappointing Arizona Cardinals and would like nothing more than to beat a playoff-bound team like Pittsburgh.
Lately, the Panthers have been rushing the football well, despite a season-ending injury to DeAngelo Williams, their starting running back. Jonathan Stewart has rushed for over 130 yards in each of his past two games.
On the other sideline, the 10-4 Pittsburgh Steelers boast the NFL's best rushing defense. However, the Steelers have struggled against the pass at times. Teams that have been able to neutralize Pittsburgh's pass rush have had success in the passing game.
The Steelers have also, at times, struggled to maintain drives. When Pittsburgh has been able to maintain a drive, they have not performed well in the red zone. The Steelers offense seemed to finally shake off some of this funk last week against the New York Jets. However, the Steelers had a poor outing on special teams and lost the game.
Last week's loss against the Jets coupled with the Baltimore Ravens' win over the New Orleans Saints, has put the Steelers in what equates to a must-win situation. While the Steelers are one of only two AFC teams to have already clinched a playoff berth, they have not yet wrapped up the AFC North title. With Baltimore unlikely to lose either of its last two games, the Steelers need to keep pace.
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