This matchup pits two teams that last met in Super Bowl XL, back in February 2006, a game won by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers look to improve to 4-1 when they host the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are 3-1 thanks to a decisive victory over the San Francisco 49ers 23-3 last week, while the Steelers lost their first game of the season last Sunday, losing to the Arizona Cardinals 21-14 in Glendale, AZ.
The Seahawks’ strngth is decidedly their offense, led by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (86-of-128, 1,032 yards, 7 touchdowns, 3 interceptions), running back Shaun Alexander (91 carries, 353 yards, 2 TD’s); their receiving corps not too shabby either, including wide receiver Deion Branch (20 catches, 329 yards, 1 TD) and Bobby Engram (17-250-2 TD’s). So as you can tell, offense isn’t really an issue. Their defense ranks middle-of-the-pack, or “bend-but-don’t break”, depending on your point of view. Led by linebacker Julian Peterson (24 tackles, 22 solo, 5 sacks) and cornerback Marcus Trufant who is having a decent year thus far (21 tackles, 19 solo, 2 INT’s), the Seahawks’ pass rush appears to be their strong suit.
Pittsburgh, as all of you knowledgeable football fans already know, are a ground team – and pretty damn good at it too. Their corps is led by RB Willie Parker (93-405-1 TD), with ample assistance by RB Najeh Davenport (21-151-1 TD). Davenport is involved in a police matter currently, but that shouldn’t stop him from playing this Sunday. Not to be overlooked is QB Ben Roethlisberger; granted his numbers aren’t spectacular (63-of-109, 807 yards, 8 TD’s, 3 INT’s), but when it counts, he delivers. In a word, he’s efficient. The undisputed star of the receiving corps is WR Santonio Holmes (14-285-3 TD’s); he has grown leaps and bounds since his rookie campaign and should eclipse his rookie numbers. Also assisting is the always reliable tight end Heath Miller (13-197-1 TD). When healthy, WR Hines Ward is steady; unfortunately, he is out this week with a sprained knee and possibly will return in 2 weeks, when the team plays at Denver. Their defense is stout overall, led by LB’s James Farrior (20 tackles, 15 solo, 2 sacks) and Clark Haggans (3 sacks)
The Seahawks best chance to win is with a stout pass rush by both defensive tackle Rocky Bernard and defensive end Patrick Kearney and a great effort by the Seahawks’ defensive line as they will need to stop Parker to realize any chance of neutralizing the Steelers. The Steelers will, like the Seahawks, have to stop the ground game of Alexander. Safety Troy Polamalu is out this week with an abdominal injury so the pressure is on the defensive line to step it up a notch. Although this is a home game, the Steelers, I expect, will have a difficult time containing Alexander as he should get around 120-125 yards and at least 1 TD. Hasselbeck will be just ordinary, but he won’t have to be spectacular, either as the Seahawks send the Steeler faithful home with a defeat this Sunday.