It’s rare that an inter-conference matchup early in the year makes for marquee viewing, but that’s exactly the case with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ upcoming clash with the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome.
Pittsburgh is currently one of the league’s best offenses. After somewhat of a slow start in the season opener against the New England Patriots, Ben Roethlisberger had three touchdowns and no picks against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and completed 77.8 percent of his passes, for a quarterback rating of 155.8.
Antonio Brown continued to prove he’s the league’s top wideout, with 195 yards and a score.
But one of the most interesting storylines to follow in this matchup is the return of Le’Veon Bell, who will play his first game of the season against the Rams after a two-game suspension. Not many of Pittsburgh’s offensive yards on Sunday came on the ground.
However, they had no problem scoring with the ground game: DeAngelo Williams, who rushed for only 77 yards, found the end zone three times, helping the Steelers reach their lopsided 43-18 victory.
With Bell’s return, the Steelers will have the ability to move down the field and can still bring Williams in on red-zone plays. It will force the St. Louis Rams defense to remain honest, having to account for the threat of Bell as well as Roethlisberger.
In Week 1, the Rams defense was looking like the best in the league, and on paper, it should be. The defensive line is rife with talent, and theoretically if any team could slow Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown, St. Louis should have a shot.
However, the Rams that triumphed over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1 looked listless in their 24-10 loss to the Washington Redskins, a shocker considering the Rams were favored by three points heading into the game.
St. Louis allowed backup Washington running back Matt Jones to rush for two touchdowns and 123 yards, as he rotated in with starter Alfred Morris. This was the Rams run defense that limited Seahawks rusher Marshawn Lynch to 73 yards and no scores in Week 1.
“We knew that in order for us to win the game we were going to have to run it, and stop the run, and get off the field on third down, and we didn’t do any one of those with any consistency,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said after the loss, per the Associated Press and via ESPN.com.
Now, the Rams defense will have a tough matchup against a rested, raring-to-go Bell and Pittsburgh’s high-octane offense. By the end of the game, we won’t be able to say that Pittsburgh has an elite offense and the Rams have one of the league’s best defenses; one of those units will be exposed next week.