The Bears are heading to the steel city needing a win in the worst way.
If they lose, that’s four straight losses heading in to the bye week with the Ravens when they come out of it.
Two straight seasons of four or more game losing streaks won’t buy anyone more time. In that regard, if your wish is that Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are shown the door at the season’s end, then I suppose rooting against the Chicago Bears is in your interest.
But how good are they really? Pittsburgh lost to Cincinnati and Las Vegas, two teams the Bears took care of and they have beat the Seahawks without Russel Wilson (and needed OT), the Browns and Denver.
It should be an interesting match up and a game that is winnable for Chicago. But I wrote the same thing about the Niners last week and how did that turn out?
Vegas doesn’t seem to think it’s winnable for Chicago either. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bears are 6.5 point underdogs at Pittsburgh.
SB Nation site: Behind the Steel Curtain
Record: 4-3, third in AFC North
Last week: 15-10 win over the Cleveland Browns
Game day, time, TV: Monday, 7:15 p.m. CT, ESPN
Bears all-time record against: 19-7-1
Historical meetings: The last time these teams played on a Monday was, and I kid you not, 1939.
I highly doubt it was a night game back then.
The Bears were 1-1 and the Steelers 0-2 as they clashed at Forbes Field.
Chicago dominated the then-Pirates, with Joe Maniaci rushing for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Bill Osmanski also had a rushing touchdown and Eggs Manske and Bob MacLeod caught touchdowns as well.
The Bears cruised to a 32-0 victory.
Last meeting: In week three of 2017, the Bears were winless and hosting the 2-0 Steelers, who were favored by a touchdown.
The Bears capitalized on a couple of early Steelers turnovers, with a muffed punt setting up one of Jordan Howard’s two rushing touchdowns on the day.
The Steelers answered with an Antonio Brown touchdown after the Bears couldn’t move the ball following a Big Ben sack-fumble by Bryce Callahan.
On the ensuing drive Mike Glennon threw a TD to Adam Shaheen.
Just before the half the Bears blocked a Pittsburgh field goal attempt but, in one of the dumbest moments in recent Bears memory, Marcus Cooper stopped running at the 10 and at the two yard line got caught from behind by a Steeler and got the ball punched out.
In the third Le’Veon Bell scored a TD following a Howard fumble.
The Steelers tied it in the fourth after picking off Glennon in Bears territory but the Bears forced overtime.
In overtime, the Bears put together a memorable drive with huge runs from rookie Tarik Cohen (ruled out of bounds) and then one play later Howard en route to a home upset win 23-17.
Offense: The Steelers’ offense ranks 26th in points and 24th in yards.
Their passing offense ranks 16th in passing yards and 28th in rushing yards.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (65.1 pct cmp/1,781 yds/8 TD/4 INT) is running the show still and looking a little rough at times, although he has played better of late. He hasn’t thrown an interception in the last three games, but he has just one game with more than one touchdown pass.
Catching Big Ben’s passes are going to WRs Dionte Johnson (40 rec/474 yds/3 TD), Chase Claypool (26/403/1) and James Washington (11/112/0). Also leading the way receiving for Pittsburgh are RB Najee Harris (37/273/2) and TE Pat Freiermuth (22/202/2). TE Eric Ebron (7/47/0).
On the ground it’s just about all Najee Harris’s show (128 att/479 yds/3 TD) as he has the bulk of the carries followed by Benny Snell Jr. (8/21/0) and Kalen Ballage (7/12/0). The only other players with rushing touchdowns for the Steelers are JuJu Smith-Schuster (on IR) and Ebron (1/1/1).
Defense: The Steelers’ defense ranks seventh in points allowed and 11th in yards allowed.
Their passing defense ranks 13th and their rushing defense 12th.
Headlined by T.J. Watt (8.5 sk/3 PD/3 FF/15 QB hits), the Steelers come in ranked 10th in sacks. The defense is loaded with talent elsewhere including DE Cam Heyward (2.5 sk/5 PD/5 QB hits), LB Devin Bush (2 sk/30 tkl/1 FF) and Minkah Fitzpatrick (51 tkl/1 TFL/1 FF/1 PD).
For all their star power, the Steelers lack in turnovers, they rank 27th in turnovers and 29th in interceptions.
Key match ups: Much like last week, how the OL stacks up against the Pittsburgh front is going to go a long way for Chicago.
Larry Borom against T.J. Watt and Sam Mustipher against Cameron Heyward are the two big key match ups in that area. Yes, Watt will likely move around and his athleticism will cause issues for Jason Peters should they meet, Peters just has a lot more experience, which is why I think Borom is the bigger key here.
The Steelers’ run defense held the Browns’ running attack in check last week. Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network had a good tweet looking at that closer.
On defense, it’s going to be about the same math up. The Bears need to pressure and hit Ben Roethlisberger early and often. He’s not like he was earlier in his career and will turn the ball over.
Containing Najee Harris is the other big factor in this game. The Bears run defense is not where it was to start the season and has been gashed, so shoring that up will be paramount.
- The Steelers held Nick Chubb to two yards or less on 11 of his 17 carries a week ago
- The Steelers rank 25th in touchdown passes. The Bears rank 32nd.
- Pittsburgh’s defense has two fewer interceptions than Chicago has.
- A meeting of two good red zone defenses: Steelers rank fifth and Bears rank eighth
- TJ Watt has a sack in all but one game this season and has had at least two QB hits in all but one game as well
- The Bears rank 31st in points scored and the Steelers rank 26th
- The Bears have won three straight in this series
Is this game as evenly matched as it seems on paper or are the Bears going to get beat soundly again?