Week 5 Matchup: Eagles at Steelers
The Eagles finally did it. We didn’t think it was possible but it happened. Jordan Mailata finally playe... I mean, they won! A lot of people did not think they could come out on top against the 49ers, but they did. But now, they’re headed to Heinz Field for the Battle of Pennsylvania against an undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers team.
They are headed into Pittsburgh for the first time since 2012 where the Steelers defeated the birds 16-14. The Steelers are coming off an early bye due to their matchup against the Titans being postponed for COVID-19 related reasons and are looking to continue their undefeated streak and the Eagles are looking to snap it.
As I had previously stated, the Pittsburgh Steelers are on top of the AFC North with a 3-0 record and are looking to continue to dominate their opponents. Now in his 16th season, Ben Roethlisberger is trying to prove he’s still an elite quarterback after suffering a season-ending elbow injury last year, and so far he’s doing just that. In their first three games, Big Ben has thrown for a total of 777 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception, and a rating at 105.2. He isn’t the main reason why they have been performing so well this season they also have quite a few weapons on their offense as well. They have a deep group of wide receivers and like to spread the ball around.
The unexpected bye gave wide receiver Dionte Johnson an extra week to rest after going through concussion protocol and is expected to play on Sunday after being cleared. So far this season, he has 14 receptions, 149 yards, and one touchdown. JuJu Smith-Schuster is an obvious threat the Eagles should keep a close eye on. He is a physical player with fantastic RAC skills and has scored three touchdowns in three games. Smith-Schuster also has 17 receptions, 164 yards, and a YPC of 9.4. Yet another receiver the Eagles have to keep a close eye on is James Washington. The Steelers rely on Washington to be their big-play guy, as he had 13 plays of 20+yards and four plays of 40+ yards in 2019.
Pittsburgh also has a pair of hard runners in 6’1, 233-pound James Conner and 5’10, 224-pound Benney Shell. Through three games, Conner has had 40 rushes go for 224 yards and one touchdown, while Shell has had 29 rushes go for 129 yards and zero touchdowns.
Their defensive line is also impressive, as they have collected more pressures+sacks than any other defensive line in the league. Their front seven is loaded with players that have the ability to get to a quarterback, and cornerback Mike Hilton is a threat to get to a quarterback from the outside.
The Eagles are going into Pittsburgh riding a high after finally getting their first win in California. But now, they are walking into Heinz Field looking to give the Steelers their first loss of the year. We started seeing the Carson Wentz we know and love, but he’ll have to be on his toes once again in this game. Wentz is going up against a defensive line that can easily generate pressure. It's been a rough start for Carson Wentz, but he’s looking to turn it around and after some disastrous plays in his first couple of games.
Wentz has been struggling in the pocket, but he is beginning to scramble to help the offense move, gaining 102 yards on 16 carries in the past two games alone. Jordan Mailata shocked us all by playing well in his first full game ever and was able to hold his own against the 49ers defense. But the real test will come this Sunday against Bud Dupree, who has 34 career sacks. Dupree's go-to move is using his explosiveness around the edge, so if Mailata finds a way to shut him down, I think the Eagles have found their possible left tackle of the future.
Another important figure the Eagles need to address is their turnover numbers -- they are currently tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the most giveaways this year at nine. If they can reduce the turnover they will increase their chances at winning.
Ultimately, this game will have to be won on defense by the Eagles if they want to break the Steelers undefeated streak. Jalen Mills moved to cornerback from safety, filling in for Avonte Maddox. Mills should stay at the cornerback position this Sunday if they want to shut down those powerhouse wide receivers. Roethlisberger gets the ball out quickly, so the Birds need to find a way to get inside pressure on Big Ben. This season, they have done a good job stopping running backs, but they have been burnt on passes so if they can put pressure on them I see the Eagles coming out the victors.
Will the Steelers go 4-0? Will the Eagles win two in a row? Find out Sunday at 1PM.