The Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers will square off for the 29th time ever on Sunday night. The Bears lead the all-time series 20-7-1.
The Bears haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 1989 and are just 1-5 all-time against the Steelers at Heinz Field. The Jim Harbaugh led Bears routed the Steelers, 20-0 in Week 10 of the 1989 season.
The Bears beat the Steelers 17-14 in the last meeting between these storied franchises. It was Jay Cutler’s second game as a Chicago Bear.
The Steelers have generated just 17 points from their offense so far this season. They are desperate for a win after losing on the road to Tennessee and Cincinnati to start the 2013 season. Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t been in sync with his young receiving core as he has completed just under 60 percent of his pass attempts. The Steelers defense is still one of the best in the league led by veterans Troy Polamolu and Lamar Woodley.
The Bears were helped by some late game heroics from Cutler for the second straight week. The Marc Trestman led Bears look poised to make a run as all three phases have shown signs of greatness this season. This will be the first test away from Soldier Field for the Bears as they look to start 3-0 for the first time since the infamous 2010 season which ended in a loss to the Packers in the NFC Championship.
The Bears’ defense must try to limit Ben Roethlisberger and not let him earn too much time in the pocket or he will make them pay. The Bears’ offense must start off fast and look to capitalize especially in the redzone. Devin Hester will try to build off his performance last week that led to him being named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the first time since 2010.
The Steelers don’t have an impressive running game or passing game right now, but they may have the upperhand early on this game because they played on national television last week. They will be fighting for a victory as they try to avoid going 0-3 to start the 2013 season.
Bears- Cornerback Charles Tillman didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday due to a lingering knee injury. He practiced on a limited basis on Friday and is considered questionable for Sunday night’s game. Expect him to suit up, but not play his usual number of snaps.
–Tight end Martellus Bennett (shoulder), guard Kyle Long (back), wide receiver Brandon Marshall (back) were all limited on Wednesday, but practiced fully the past two days. All three are considered probable and will start against Pittsburgh.
Steelers- Tight end Heath Miller is set to make his season debut after fully recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered last December. He practiced fully all week and is expected to be on a snap count, but should give his offense a big boost. Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell (foot) is considered questionable after practicing fully the past two days. He likely will wait another week to make his season debut.
–Cornerback Cortez Allen has been ruled out with an ankle injury. Rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones (heel) is probable after being limited in two of the three practices this week.
Players Who Must Step Up
Julius Peppers– Battling through the flu and plantar fasciitis, Peppers hasn’t looked even close to the same player that he was a year ago. The 33-year old has recorded just one tackle this season. He has looked invisible at times not even needing a double team from opposing offensive lines. This is a big game for him. He needs to earn his paycheck out on the field for the Bears on Sunday night. The Bears’ defense has just two sacks this season. Look for Peppers to step up.
Major Wright- He certainly hasn’t been impressive in pass coverage, but he’s made up for his mistakes by making key tackles. He racked up 11 tackles (nine solo) last week. He will be asked to cover tight ends Heath Miller and David Paulson in pass coverage. Its not a daunting task, but he needs to be steady especially against Miller who is Roethlisberger’s favorite target.
Alshon Jeffery- The second-year South Carolina product is very talented, but he hasn’t fully grasped the new offensive scheme. He caught just one of five targets thrown his way last week for 11 yards. Cutler needs to find ways to get Jeffery more involved in the passing game. That will only open things up for Marshall and the Bennett’s. Jeffery should be in line for a big game on Sunday night against backup cornerback William Gay.
Final Score Prediction
Bears 30, Steelers 17
Qwikcast.com Weather Forecast
Weather will be in the mid 50’s to start. Partly cloudy in the evening, then clearing. Lows in the lower 40s. North winds 5 to 10 mph.
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