The Chicago Bears (2-0) take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) at Heinz Field Sunday night on NBC. The last time these two teams saw each other was in 2009, and the Bears lead the series 17-7-1. This game will be the Bears’ first road test, and it will be a loud environment. On the other side, the Steelers are desperate for a win as they are looking to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2000.
Steelers’ woes set stage for Chicago Bears to take advantage
Averaging 9.5 points through the first two games, the Steelers have a different look to them so far this season. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has a completion percentage of 58.6, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also been sacked seven times, and a big part of that is due to center Maurkice Pouncey being out. They might see some relief Sunday, as tight end Heath Miller is listed as probable. Miller has not played since last December in Cincinnati where he tore ligaments in his right knee.
The running backs for the Steelers have been atrocious as well. Felix Jones, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer have only rushed for a combined 70 yards on 27 attempts. Rookie Le’Veon Bell is continuing to rehab his foot, and they can not afford to rush him back. He is listed as questionable for Sunday, so if the team thinks Bell is ready, they have no choice but to unleash the rookie at a pivotal time in their season. If they lose to the Bears on Sunday, I think they do not have a shot at making the playoffs this year. The Bears should be able to take advantage of the Steelers’ offensive woes and get to Roethlisberger and the running backs as often as possible.
The defense is certainly not the same when James Harrison was the face of that unit. They have allowed 239 rushing yards so far, and they have just one sack. The Bears can definitely take advantage of this, as the offense will unveil more of their playbook and light up the Steelers’ defense on both the ground and in the air. Running back Matt Forte will be a key factor in Sunday’s matchup, and if the Bears can get him going early, that will set up the rest of the offense for a big night.
Quarterback Jay Cutler will have a tough time going against Steelers’ defensive cooridnator Dick Lebeau’s 3-4 defense. It features pressures and fronts the Bears have yet to see, and expect the experienced defensive line to throw even more things at the young offensive line of the Bears. I believe they will be tested, but they should be able to adapt to the changes and overpower the Steelers. The Bears have had to battle back from two deficits already, so they should have enough confidence coming into this game to hold their own.
In their last meeting in ’09, Cutler went 27-of-38 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions on the way to a 17-14 Bears victory. He also improved to 2-0 against the Steelers, a promising record heading into this game.
The Bears’ defense has forced six turnovers so far, looking to improve off their NFL-best 44 takeaways from last season. Aside from Forte kickstarting the offense Sunday, the defense needs to perform at a very high level. I don’t think that will be a problem, as they have watched film of their previous games and have learned from their mistakes. They will come out motivated with the objective of quieting the Heinz field crowd early.
The Bears in primetime? What more could you want? I think the Bears will execute better than they did the previous two games and continue to get everyone involved. I would not be surprised if the game got away from the Steelers early, but you never know what can happen under the lights.