The defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams travel to Pittsburgh this coming Sunday to take on the suddenly hot Pittsburgh Steelers in yet another game that both teams need to have to stay close in the playoff hunt.
The Steelers now find themselves sitting at 4-4 and just one game back of the Indianapolis Colts for the 6th and final playoff spot in the AFC. Since they beat the Colts last weekend, the black and gold hold the tiebreaker.
Yet, none of that matters if they don’t put up a ‘W’ this week at home against the Rams.
In order to do so, the Steelers are going to need to open up the playbook a bit more and allow Mason Rudolph to throw downfield to his big-play threat, JuJu Smith Schuster. I don’t suspect that will be easy considering Jalen Ramsey will be blanketing him all game long. Guys like Diontae Johnson, James Washington and primarily Vance McDonald need to have plays drawn up for them by Randy Fichtner to help Rudolph spread the ball around.
If the passing attack wants to get vertical, the running game needs to be the piece that sets it all up. If Jaylen Samuels can be featured, the team can control the clock and set up the play-action. If Fichtner keeps it simple, the Rams will win the battle.
Defensively, the black and gold will have their hands full with a very potent offense lining up against them on the other side of the ball.
While he’s not having a superb year, Jared Goff is still very dangerous and he’ll look to get the ball out quick to Cooper Kupp. Yet, I’d rather the team take their chances on Goff beating them then leaving it up to Todd Gurley. Gurley, to me, is still a supreme back and can break out with a huge game at any time. I’m not sure why he hasn’t been putting up the big numbers this season but I don’t care, he must be the primary focus of the defense.
If the defense can stop Gurley, they can then blitz the daylights out of Goff and force him into mistake throws, where you know Minkah Fitzpatrick will be ready to pounce.
I suspect this game will come down to Chris Boswell's toe again and it will be won late, with points in the 30’s needed to get it done.
Steelers 31 - Rams 28