I’ll admit, it’s hard to take this article seriously. Match-ups? We are seemingly screwed in so many ways that the only mitigating factor is that we might actually have a legit case of “us vs. the world” syndrome while playing at home.
It’s rare to see a 7.5/8 point home dog in the NFL, yet that’s where we are, and who we are. The Steelers are supposed to whoop our ass.
Considering our current circumstances, I think it’s fair to approach the “3 Key Match-Ups” from a long-term approach as opposed to a this game approach. Rather than focusing on how we might pull off a small miracle-of-sorts, let’s took a look at the match-ups that might unearth the most information about our players. Keep in mind, even going into this season, Year 1 of the Adam Gase project is/was likely centered on who is in the future plans.
3) William Gay Vs. DeVante Parker
Like most of us thought last year, we need to be set at WR. A quartet of Parker, Landry, Carroo, and Grant seems like a decent mix going into 2017. We have to be able to devote resources elsewhere.
This depends on DeVante Parker.
Can he become more consistent and dependable? What types of CB’s does he struggle with, and whom does he excel against? Can we count on him?
It wouldn’t shock me if Gase comes in with an aggressive attitude with the offense and takes multiple shots downfield against the Steelers (provided our offensive line doesn't go boneless at the snap). At the other end of the spectrum, we might be getting blown out early, causing us to disproportionately pass the ball. I believe the game is set up to see a lot of Parker targets either way. Let’s see what kind of plays he can make.
2) Jordan Phillips Vs. Ramon Foster/David DeCastro
Jordan Phillips has made approximately as many plays in 2016 as Stannis Baratheon has smiled in Game of Thrones. We have to see something from him soon or we need to start looking at a starting DT in 2017, and rendering Phillips nothing more than occasional snap duty.
Our run defense has been poor most of the season; our run defense was poor last year. Say what you will about this being a passing league, if you can’t stop the run, you don’t have an f’ing chance. We have a Pro Bowler in Ndamukong Suh, and it’s time we find someone who can play next to him.
1) Tony Lippett Vs. Antonio Brown
With all due respect to Tony Lippett, if I had Antonio Brown on my fantasy team, I’d be ecstatic. At the same time, what a wonderful opportunity for this young man to play against the game’s best receiver.
Quick side story: I never became a better basketball player than when I was playing against better competition. I played on a 14 year-old AAU basketball team as a 13 year-old, and I rode the bench, but when I came back and played my peers for school ball...I was playing a different game.
The jury is most certainly out on Tony Lippett, but I want to have taken every peek, every glance from every angle, to judge whether a 6’3” CB had the chops to play starting caliber football in the NFL. That’s a rare specimen to even be asking yourself that question, so I’d sure as s*** want to answer it definitively.
Tony Lippett might learn more from this game than he does any other game he plays this season by virtue of who he is going against. I hope that he absorbs as much information from whatever mistakes he might make on Sunday to become a better player.
Best of all, we get to see how he acts and reacts to being in a fight with one of the best players in the game. What will his body language and on-field play tell us on Sunday? Does he give up/bounce back? Does he get the better of Brown on an occasion or two? He’s up against the wall, and I’m curious how he responds.
What key match-ups do you see Phinsider Nation? Let’s hear it in the Comments!