Seahawks vs Steelers keys to the game


The Seattle Seahawks (5-5) host the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-4) who are coming off a bye in a game that has a lot of importance for both teams. The Seahawks can hardly afford to drop this game, and the Steelers coming off a bye would prefer to keep pace for the wild card or even keep division hopes alive. What are the keys to this big game?

Seattle Seahawks

1: Run, Rawls, run. Thomas Rawls has emerged as a legitimate key to the rest of the Seahawks season, which no one expected out of this year. That is why we love the NFL, unexpected players having bigger than expected impact.

Rawls has capitalized on his opportunities with Marshawn Lynch hurt multiple times this year, and he has earned the Seahawks trust. He had a record performance vs the 49ers. They don’t need that from him every week, but if they can get positive plays out of him, it helps.

2: Avoid the negative plays on offense. When the Seahawks stay ahead of the chains, they are a really tough offense to hold back. When they commit negative plays, whether it be by penalties, sacks, or negative runs, they are very close to punting.

The Seahawks need to stay ahead of the chains if they want to keep their legitimate playoff hopes alive. This also gives you a larger selection of plays to choose from, as you become more limited when you have 1st and 20 and 2nd and 17’s.

3: Third downs largely dictate who wins games. While Pete Carroll insists that the ball is everything, we’re seeing that proven wrong. Winning the third down battle has been more indicative of who wins games.

Carson Palmer has turned the ball over 7 times his last two games at Seattle and won both games. Why? Because they do well enough on third downs and they create enough explosive plays to survive turnovers. When you convert on third down on both sides of the ball, you are more likely to win. It’s that simple. Win on third down.

4: Contain Antonio Brown. I am of the belief that stopping Antonio Brown will be close to impossible. The key will be to slow him down the best to the Seahawks ability. This should include Earl Thomas sitting over the top and being ready to help with Antonio Brown at a moments notice.

The Seahawks will have an interesting decision to make on whether to have Richard Sherman follow Antonio Brown the way he has other top receivers this year. This will be a daunting task for the Seahawks.

5: Get after Ben Roesthlsberger. The Seahawks don’t often get to play a QB with the overall package that Big Ben has where he can beat you from the pocket with his arm and beat you outside of the pocket with his arms and legs.

Cam Newton doesn’t have that total package and Colin Kaepernick does not either.  The Seahawks need to be ready for the Steelers to try to take advantage of the Seahawks cover 3 zone package and to collapse the pocket in ways that teams do this to Russell Wilson.

Pittsburgh Steelers

1: Slow down Thomas Rawls. The Steelers have a pretty good run defense, but the Seahawks are a team who have a run first offensive philosophy and everything else plays off that.

Wilson is capable of carrying the Seahawks if the run game struggles, but the big problem comes when they play action while having a good day running the ball. This makes everyone bite on the fake and opens up the big explosive plays. The Steelers can’t let Thomas Rawls go off on them the way the 49ers and Bengals have allowed him to.

2: Collapse the pocket on Russell Wilson and force him to hold the ball. When you collapse the pocket from all around Russell Wilson, it can at times cause him to panic and hold onto the ball and get sacked.

You can’t attack the edge too hard or else you’ll give Wilson an outlet to scramble and extend the play. He can pass from the pocket, but things get really out of hand if you give up the scramble lanes that he thrives off of.

3: Don’t abandon DeAngelo Williams early. Big Ben is an excellent QB, but it pays off eventually if you continue to trust the run vs the Seahawks even if it isn’t going well. DeAngelo can have enough positive runs that it can cause Seattle to bite on play action which makes the LB’s be one or two steps off where they should be in their zone to defend against the pass.

4: Martavis Bryant, make your impact felt. Antonio Brown will get his vs the Seahawks. It’s up to Martavis to be that second threat that makes things chaotic for Seattle defensively.

Not stopping Antonio Brown would hurt the Seahawks, but being unable to also stop Martvaris would be crippling to their chances of winning. Martavis needs to take a role like Michael Floyd takes vs the Seahawks. The executioner behind the #1 guy.

5: Keep Seattle behind the chains on offense. Seattle struggles offensively when they are behind the sticks. This can be done by drawing penalties in pressure packages or stuns that confuse the offensive lineman.

This also includes forcing Wilson to hold the ball resulting in sacks, and stuffing the run on early downs and forcing incompletions. The offense becomes much less potent when they are constantly playing from behind the preferred down and distance.