It's a well-documented and an overly stated fact in the NFL that teams that fall into the dreaded 0-3 hole almost never make it out. The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently 0-2, with a loss at home to the Tennessee Titans and an away loss to their AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals.
You might be ready to write off the Steelers due to their struggles, but let's remember this is a team with proven winners, and they'll be desperate heading into week three.
The Chicago Bears travel to Pittsburgh riding a two game winning streak over playoff teams from 2012. The offense seems rejuvenated, and the defense is still forcing turnovers and playing that vaunted Bears-style defense. It looks as if Chicago is moving into contender territory while Pittsburg is moving out.
And they are passing each other on the way.
The Steelers’ main problem in the first two weeks is their inability to get the ball in the end zone. They've managed to score two offensive touchdowns on 19 drives this season (conversion rate of .105), and they are struggling to move the ball on the ground and through the air — the offense has managed to only accumulate 397 total yards through its first two games (198 yards per game). The Steelers rushing attack is basically non-existent so far only averaging 37.5 yards per game on 31 attempts.
The most glaring statistic to show the struggles of the Steelers’ offense to me is the amount of punts and where those punts have gone. 14 punts by Zoltan Mesko and only one has managed to land inside the 20 yard line with no touchbacks.
This means the Steelers have consistently been giving teams good field position and have failed to move the ball past midfield. It's been an utter disaster in Pittsburgh in this early season, but this is a team bound to bounce back, and it could come at home this weekend.
While the offense has struggled, the defense is still keeping the games close. Opposing teams’ passing attacks have been limited by the pressure up front and solid secondary play. Teams are only averaging 198 yards passing per game against the Steelers.
Where they are getting beat is one the ground, surrendering 119 yards per game and at least one touchdown. We saw Monday just how effective a balanced attack can be against the Steelers, with the Bengals using BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard out of the back field on rushing plays and short passing downs.
The Bears come in with momentum off two come-from-behind victories and with a tough stretch of games directly following this game, including a divisional matchup. The Bears could potentially overlook this struggling Steelers team. Heinz Field will be a playoff-like atmosphere on Sunday night, and the Steelers will treat this game like a playoff game.
A desperate and focused Ben Roethlisberger — a two-time Super Bowl champion — could easily pull off this upset if the Bears come in unprepared. Roethlisberger has been put in these back against the wall situations ever since he was a rookie, and he's proven time and time again that he's capable of winning games like this.
Only three other 0-3 teams have made the playoffs in the last 23 years, and hopefully the Steelers find themselves in that dreaded 0-3 hole come Monday.
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