Inside the Steelers-Saints Matchup

Brees and his receivers will need to be on the same page in order to have success against a relentless Pittsburgh defense

Can the vaunted Steelers pass rush make Brees, Saints look bad for a second week in a row?

I was fortunate enought to exchange Q&As with Steelers Gab (and the Sports Gab Network) editor, Matt Loede about Sunday’s matchup against Pittsburgh. Here’s what we talked about.

Saints Gab:   How much better (or worse) is the Steelers offense with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm and why?

Matt:  It’s much better, as seen by the teams last two games, both wins over the Browns and Dolphins. The teams ability to throw the ball now more and more effectively with Ben in there is a key, and it’s also helped a couple big pass catchers – Hines Ward and Heath Miller. Ben is a QB that has won two titles, and even if you are against what he does off the field, there’s no doubt he helps them greatly on the field.

Saints Gab: What does the loss of Aaron Smith mean for the Steelers defense?

Matt: It’s big. Every season that Aaron has missed the Steelers defense has taken a big step back. Smith is hoping to only miss about six weeks, but that’s a longshot, as the type of injury he has usually means he misses a couple months, not just a few weeks. The opponents ability to run increases greatly with Smith gone, and that could start this week with the Saints.

Saints Gab: What can the Saints do to find any success against the Steelers stout defense?

Matt: Spread the field. Teams that spread the field and throw often using short 3-4 step drops usually can find more success against the Steelers than those that take 5-7 step drops and try to set up down the field. While the Saints have to keep the Steelers honest with trying to run a little, it’s unlikely they will have a lot of success in that department. The Saints best shot to move the ball is use a hurry up, spread the field, and not let the Steelers set up and get their blitz packages on and off the field.

Saints Gab: What will the Steelers do to limit Drew Brees and the potent passing attack of the Saints?

Matt: It’s all about pressure, and if the Saints don’t play at a fast pace, the Steelers linebackers will make it a tough and long night for Brees. The Steelers ability to allow some downfield stuff here and there doesn’t seem to hurt them since their D usually stiffens up once a team reaches about the Steelers 30 and they usually can come up with a big sack or turnover.

Saints Gab: Final score predictions?

Matt: I have no clue what the Saints are doing out there right now, losing to a team like Cleveland at home is just terrible, and while it might be a wake up call, I think the way the Steelers are playing defense and while Roethlisberger and Rashard Mendenhall is running well, I think the Steelers find a way on Halloween night to go to the Big Easy and get a win, topping the Saints 23-17.

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