This week, long-time rivals Pittsburgh and Dallas faceoff in an interconfrence battle. The Steelers are 1-2 against the NFC East, while the Cowboys are coming off a win against the Seattle Seahawks. These are my key matchups in this game.
1. QB Tony Romo vs SS Troy Polamalu
The Steelers' strong safety is tearing up the secondary this year with a league-leading six interceptions. He is versatile and able to play anywhere on the field, so Romo will have to keep an eye on him.
2. RB Marion Barber vs NT Casey Hampton
This week shows an interesting matchup, physical, power runner Barber against the leagues best run defense. At the center of that defense is Casey Hampton, the hole-clogging nose tackle. Last week, the Patriots ran for 80 yards in the first half, most while Hampton was on the sideline when the Steelers were in the nickel.
3. Steelers Offensive Line vs LB DeMarcus Ware
The Steelers have had one major woe this year, the offensive line. It does not help much that they are up against the league leader in sacks DeMarcus Ware. He has pass rushing abilities better than the Steelers have faced, so Roethlisberger will need to have his head on a swivel to stay on his feet, and not on the ground.
4. LB's James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley vs Cowboys Offensive Line
In the same breath, the Steelers have the best linebacking combination in the NFL. The two combine for 25.5 sacks, and James Harrison is one sack away from tying the Steelers record. The Cowboys will have to do better than the Patriots at keeping this duo out of the backfield.
5. Steelers Special Teams vs PR Adam Jones
The Steelers have had a great improvement from last years special teams debacle. New coaching and practice style have made the Steelers improve greatly. They have not faced a challenge since playing Cleveland's Joshua Cribbs.
Jones comes back off from being suspended having something to prove to himself and his teammates.