Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! This is your one stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a Game Preview, the Steeler's Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Fantasy Football Impact, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, and the latest Injury Report. Heck, you even get the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
Steelers face Panthers in prime-time on Thursday Night Football at Heinz Field
The second half of the 2018 NFL regular season starts a few days earlier for the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1) as they face the Carolina Panthers (6-2) this Thursday night at Heinz Field.
The Steelers come into this game on a roll, winning their past four games. Carolina comes in equally as hot, bringing home victory in five of their past six.
One of those streaks will come to an abrupt halt, and the team that stands tall will likely be the team that controls the clock and secures the ball the best.
Despite some early struggles, the Steelers are once again looking like a Super Bowl contender.
“That we’re a resilient bunch,” said defensive end Cameron Heyward. “We can dig some holes for ourselves, and we can get out of some holes. There’s trends between our first quarter and our second quarter, and our third quarter hasn’t been defined yet. We look forward to being on the right end of that.”
Like the Steelers, Carolina has already dispatched of Baltimore and Cincinnati this season and will be looking to make it three straight over the AFC North.
“They just beat two AFC North opponents already, so it’s time for us to show them that they’re not just going to run the AFC North and bowl us over,” Heyward said. “You put a lot of respect on what they’ve done and what we’ve done. But this team’s hot and we’ve got to stone them.”
Carolina's strength is centered around its rushing attack, led by Christian McCaffrey, the dual-threat RB out of Stanford.
“We understand the job’s not done,” Heyward said. “We’re going against the number two rushing offense, and we look forward to a test like that, where we can not only keep them from doing anything but make a mark and tell them that you’ve got to be (more than) one-dimensional versus us.”
In the first part of the year, Pittsburgh's D was soft as a pillow vs. the run, allowing the Chiefs and Browns to run rampant through them. Carolina ranks second in the NFL in rushing at 143.9 yards a game. Luckily, the defense has returned to form, allowing only 64.8 yards a game during their winning streak of four.
Carolina QB Cam Newton will be priority #1 for the Steelers to neutralize.
"You should start with Cam Newton because he can run it, he can throw it, he's strong, he can make all the throws (with) accuracy from a distance standpoint," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
"But I really think what's going on with them is looking at the infusion of roles between what he and McCaffrey are able to do. You talk about multi-talented players, multidimensional players that are really performing well together."
Carolina will also have its hands full with Pittsburgh's running game. James Conner, who has made Steelers fans forget about the whereabouts of holdout Le'Veon Bell, is coming off of AFC Player of the Week and Month honors. The offense, as a whole, is heating up at the right time of the year.
"He's a beast," Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly said of Conner, according to the Panthers' website. "They are really good up front -- they're big and physical. They work really together, but that guy is really good. He's playing with a lot of confidence.
"He's like these new-age backs where they are good, obviously, running the ball, but he can catch the ball and cause some mismatches as well."
Last week against the Ravens, who were the #1 ranked defense, the Steelers accumulated 395 yards and converted 10 of 16 third-down attempts.
“I think you put a lot into it,” guard Ramon Foster said of the Steelers’ win streak. “We went against some really good defenses. We went against some teams on the road. We dropped some to a team early on that we ended up getting some get-back on, so I can say definitely from the first Baltimore game to this last one you’ve got to say that we improved.”
Steelers Keys To Victory
- Protect the ball.
- Attack downfield to open running game.
- Feed James Conner.
- Disrupt Cam Newton's flow.
- Contain Christian McCaffrey.
- Know where Greg Olsen is at all times.
This should be a fun one to watch, It's a short week so both teams won't be well rested. This one could be all about momentum. If Pittsburgh can get up early and keep the Heinz Field crowd energized, Carolina just might be in for a long night. Ben Roethlisberger always plays above the line in prime-time. Carolina is very tough to run against, but that won't stop Pittsburgh from trying the jam the ball down the Panther's throats behind James Conner, who is having an MVP type season. Pittsburgh is starting to master the art of balance in its attack, which makes them very difficult to contain for long.
The defense for the Steelers is rounding into an above average unit during their win streak, shutting down the Falcons, Bengals, Browns, and Ravens for all intents and purposes.
It won't be easy, but Pittsburgh needs to keep Cam Newton in the pocket and hit him as many times as possible. Newton isn't on the injury report but has a sore shoulder from a few reports out there. Christian McCaffrey is a stud, but the key to stopping him is making the tackle at the point of contact.
Be happy, the world finally gets a Thursday night game worth watching! Carolina will give a good effort but in the end...
Steelers 31 - Panthers 20
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Carolina Panthers - NFL Week 10
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Kickoff: Thursday, November 8th, at 8:20 pm
TV: FOX/NFL Network (locally WPGH-TV, channel 53) | Announcers: Joe Buck (play-by-play) Troy Aikman (analyst) | Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink (sideline)
Amazon Prime: Hannah Storm (play-by-play) | Andrea Kremer (analyst)
National Radio: Westwood One | Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) | Tony Boselli (analyst)
Weather at Kickoff: 38 and overcast! Winds 5 mph E.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -4.5
Fantasy Football Focus
- Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB James Conner, WR Antonio Brown, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Sleeper: TE Vance McDonald
- Sit: TE Jesse James
- Start: QB Cam Newton, RB Christian McCaffrey, TE Greg Olsen
- Sleeper: WR Devin Funchess
- Series History: Series began in 1996.
- The Steelers are 5-1 in the overall Regular Season series against the Panthers.
- Steelers are 3-0 at Home vs the Panthers.
- Streak: Steelers won previous five games.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Sept. 21, 2014, at Carolina (Pittsburgh 37, Carolina 19)
- Steelers are 0-0 in the Post-Season vs the Panthers.
- Last Post-Season Meeting:
- Pittsburgh looks to improve to 26-8 in prime-time games at Heinz Field since the stadium opened in 2001.
- The Steelers aim to improve to 10-9 on Thursday Night Football (8-2 at home).
- Ben Roethlisberger needs 5 touchdown passes to record No. 350 in his NFL career.
- Roethlisberger with a win, would improve to 4-0 vs. Carolina in the regular season as a starter and to 2-0 at home against the Panthers.
- Antonio Brown needs two touchdown catches to reach 70 in his NFL career and with the Steelers.
- Brown, with 100 catches in 2018, will become the first player in NFL history to record 100 or more receptions in six consecutive years.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster is two touchdown receptions shy of 10 in his NFL career.
- T.J. Watt needs one sack to reach 15 in his NFL career.
- Cam Heyward is a half sack from becoming the third Steelers' defensive lineman to accumulate 40 quarterback takedowns since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers
- Overall Record: 5-2-1
- Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (12th Season with Steelers)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 121-62-1 (.660)
- Playoff Record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)
- 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Roster
- Steelers Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Game: Pittsburgh 23 Baltimore 16
Scouting the Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger has been up and down all season but is still putting up big numbers in the passing game. Big Ben's big arm, along with his uncanny ability to slip out of the pocket and extend plays makes him one of the league's best.
Le'Veon Bell is one of the league's best backs. He is dynamic in both running and catching the ball out of the backfield, but until he signs his contract and reports to the team... who cares? James Conner is more than capable of shouldering a starters share of carries. He has slimmed down and has added speed and quickness to an already powerful running style. Conner has become a dual threat with Bell out. Jaylen Samuels is an H-Back type of player that can line up all over the field. He is especially dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. Steven Ridley is a capable runner that can be counted upon on an as-needed basis.
What more can you say about Antonio Brown? He is the league's best wide receiver. His dedication and drive to be the best is unmatched by any player in the league. JuJu Smith-Schuster heads into his 2nd season and has picked up where he left off. Speaking of rookies, James Washington was a Camp favorite of Roethlisberger, and could quickly establish himself as a dangerous weapon in the slot as the 3rd receiver. Justin Hunter is a nice deep threat. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams. Ryan Switzer has been good in the return game, but has also established himself as a reliable target for Roethlisberger out of the slot.
Jesse James is reliable as ever. Vance McDonald is looking to make a big impact in his 2nd year as a Steeler, looking to build off a 10-catch, 112-yard day in a postseason loss to the Jaguars. Xavier Grimble provides a big target for Roethlisberger in the Red Zone.
Up front, the Steelers deploy Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt as their defensive ends. In the middle, Javon Hargrave and Daniel McCullers will rotate. Tyson Alualu and Kameron Canaday will see time at defensive end as well. L.T. Walton can play all three spots.
The linebacker unit goes Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt on the outside, with Vince Williams and Jon Bostic in the middle. Anthony Chickillo and Matthew Thomas back-up Dupree and Watt, while L.J. Fort and Tyler Matakevich are reserves in the middle.
In the secondary, Artie Burns and Joe Haden are the starters at cornerback. Backing them up will be Brian Allen, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, and Coty Sensabaugh. Rookie Terrell Edmunds starts at strong safety, with Morgan Burnett backing him up and seeing plenty of action in nickel and dime formations. Sean Davis is the starter yet again at free safety, with Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen as reserves.
- Ben Roethlisberger (2,560 yards passing | 16 TD passes | 7 interceptions | 11 sacks | 48 yards rushing | 2 TD's)
- James Conner (706 yards rushing | 9 rushing TD’s | 38 receptions | 379 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Stevan Ridley (30 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 3 receptions | 18 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jaylen Samuels (19 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Roosevelt Nix (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 1 receptions | 19 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Juju Smith-Schuster (53 receptions | 672 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Antonio Brown (51 receptions | 594 receiving yards | 9 receiving TD’s)
- Ryan Switzer (16 receptions | 88 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- James Washington (7 receptions | 66 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Justin Hunter (3 receptions | 21 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Darrius Heyward-Bey (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Vance McDonald (26 receptions | 346 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Jesse James (21 receptions | 336 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Xavier Grimble (3 receptions | 44 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 22-26 | FG: 7-10 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 3-3 | 30-39: 3-3 | 40-49: 1-4 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 42)
A look at the Carolina Panthers
- Overall Record: 6-2
- Head Coach: Ron Rivera (8th Season with Panthers)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 70-49-1 (.588) | 70-49-1 (.588) with Panthers
- Playoff Record: 3-4 (Qualified for playoffs 4 times)
- 2018 Carolina Panthers Roster
- Carolina Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: Carolina 42 Tampa Bay 28
Scouting the Panthers
Cam Newton is the man who can run it and throw it. Newton has 1,893 yards passing, 15 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. He is elusive, only being sacked 12 times, and has 342 yards rushing and another four scores.
Christian McCaffrey leads the way and can do it all. He has 502 yards on the ground, finding the end-zone three times. He has amassed 49 receptions, good for 378 yards and another two TD's.
Greg Olsen is Newton's go-to-guy when it counts. Injured earlier, he is heating up with each passing game.
Panthers defense allows 22.5 PPG and is stout vs the run, allowing just 94.1 YPG.
- Cam Newton (1,893 yards passing | 15 TD passes | 4 interceptions | 12 sacks | 342 yards rushing | 4 TD's)
- Christian McCaffrey (502 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 49 receptions | 378 yards receiving | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Devin Funchess (36 receptions | 445 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
- D.J. Moore (19 receptions | 297 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Jarius Wright (18 receptions | 170 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- *Torrey Smith (16 receptions | 171 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Curtis Samuel (8 receptions | 106 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Greg Olsen (18 receptions | 218 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
- Ian Thomas (11 receptions | 87 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Graham Gano (Extra Point: 21-23 | FG: 11-11 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 1-1 | 30-39: 3-3 | 40-49: 4-4 | 50+: 3-3 | Long: 63)
Steelers-Panthers: Offense vs Defense Match-Up
- Steelers Offense: Steelers average 424.4 YPG | Panthers defense allows 344.8 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers average 101.6 YPG | Panthers defense allows 94.1 YPG
- Passing: Steelers average 322.8 YPG | Panthers defense allows 250.6 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers average 28.4 PPG | Panthers defense allows 22.5 PPG
- Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 348.3 YPG | Panthers offense averages 382.1 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers allow 90.3 YPG | Panthers offense averages 143.9 YPG
- Passing: Steelers allow 258 YPG | Panthers offense averages 283.3 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers allow 23.5 PPG | Panthers offense averages 27.5 PPG
Injury Report (11/6/2018)
- Out: OT Marcus Gilbert (Knee), DT Dan McCullers (Ankle)
- Doubtful: N/A
- Questionable: N/A
- Out: DE Marquis Haynes, WR Torrey Smith
- Doubtful: N/A
- Questionable: DE Mario Addison, C Ryan Kalil (Ankle), LB David Mayo (Groin), S Eric Reid (Shoulder)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 9 @ Philadelphia W, 31-14 (KDKA)
Thursday, Aug. 16 @ Green Bay L, 51-34 (KDKA)
Saturday, Aug. 25 TENNESSEE W, 16-6 (KDKA/NFL Network)
Thursday, Aug. 30 CAROLINA W, 39-24 (KDKA)
REGULAR SEASON (5-2-1)
Sunday, Sept. 9 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. | TIE- 21-21
Sunday, Sept. 16 KANSAS CITY 1 p.m. | L- 42-37
Monday, Sept. 24 @ Tampa Bay 8:15 p.m. | W- 30-27
Sunday, Sept. 30 BALTIMORE 8:20 p.m. | L- 26-14
Sunday, Oct. 7 ATLANTA* 1 p.m. | W- 41-17
Sunday, Oct. 14 @ Cincinnati* | W- 28-21
Sunday, Oct. 21 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Oct. 28 CLEVELAND* | W- 33-18
Sunday, Nov. 4 @ Baltimore* | W- 23-16
Thursday, Nov. 8 CAROLINA 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Nov. 18 @ Jacksonville 1:00 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 25 @ Denver* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 2 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 9 @ Oakland* 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 16 NEW ENGLAND* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 23 @ New Orleans* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 30 CINCINNATI* 1 p.m. (CBS)
* - Times may change due to flexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 5-6 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 12-13 Divisional Playoff Games
Sunday, Jan. 20 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 27 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 3 Super Bowl LIII (Atlanta, Ga.)