Remember MySpace and the "Top 8" friends? This is kind of the same thing! Each week an SCU contributor chooses five specific Pittsburgh Steelers every fan should keep their eye on in the upcoming game. Yes, the choices are just as difficult as choosing those friends on MySpace too! (Except we aren't forced to keep Tom as one of them!)
As Rudolph has been somewhat consistent in how he has produced in passing yards, much of the game will depend on how the Steelers offense flows and if they can keep up with a potential Los Angeles Rams offensive attack from Todd Gurley II and Jared Goff/Cooper Kupp. This past weekend against the Colts, the playcalling gave Rudolph open receivers down the field but for whatever reason, Mason did not attempt multiple pass opportunities to open receivers down the field.
Look for where his eyes are during his dropbacks this week and see if he bails himself out with a short pass or whether he throws it down the field.
The Offensive Line
It's not one player but the entire unit on the offensive line that will have to be at the top of their game to cover the numerous Rams defensive players who can get to the quarterback. Potential Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald has five sacks and 13 tackles for loss. The Rams also have Dante Fowler Jr. with 6.5 sacks and ten tackles for loss, and Clay Matthews with six sacks and nine tackles for loss.
The line will have to play like one unit in order to help protect Rudolph so he can remain comfortable in the pocket and find open receivers.
Just like this past weekend against the Indianapolis Colts, the Steelers' running back situation will possibly remain the same. With two of their top three running backs potentially out due to injury, including James Conner, Samuels will have to carry the load for the Steelers once again without much help.
If Rudolph ends up having a bad game through the air, offensive production will most likely come down to how Samuels can perform on the ground and in the short receiving game if the Steelers want a chance to make it four victories in a row.
Since Fitzpatrick joined the Steelers six games ago, he has been someone to key-in on every single game. The final piece to the defensive puzzle is making splash plays and propelling this team to a 4-2 record since his arrival. Tied for second in the league in interceptions and coming off of the 96-yard touchdown interception against the Colts, Fitzpatrick should be someone you look for every game.
With Kupp being the main target for Goff, the secondary can close-in with fewer players in order to disrupt the opposing passing attack and limit the Rams to a one-dimensional rushing game led by a running back who has not looked normal in a year and a half.
Watt is having a season of his own that could put him in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year if it weren't for production from players such as Donald. Along with Fitzpatrick, Watt is someone who is consistently making splash plays in the opponents' offensive backfield and disrupting opposing offenses. With 7.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, one interception, and three fumble recoveries, Watt has become even more fun to watch this year.
The Steelers have benefited greatly from Watt's pass-rushing attack and he will have to continue to make plays as the Rams' offensive line is better than a few teams the Steelers have faced this season thus far.