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Old 12-30-2005, 11:40 AM  
StcChief StcChief is offline
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Take 2: Lions at Steelers

Tuesday, our scouts filed their advance advance scouting report
on this week's matchup between the
Lions
and Steelers . Now
they're back with a second look.

* After a 3-game losing streak, the Steelers are now on a 3-game
winning
streak. What has been the difference? This team has found its toughness
again. After being dictated to in their losses, they are now the one
that is
establishing their identity and imposing their will on the opponent. Do
not
expect that to change this week. Pittsburgh will come out early and
establish the run with Willie Parker
. Once they
get
the lead, the Bus (Jerome Bettis) will come off the bench and look to
finish
the job. It is a great recipe, one that has them one game away from
clinching a playoff berth.
* We can put to rest the topic of QB Ben Roethlisberger
's right
thumb
injury. It is a non-issue, and if the second-year quarterback is having
any
pain, he is not showing it. In the past three games, all wins, he has
not
thrown one interception. His passer ratings have been 109.0, 99.0 and
120.0.
The biggest difference in Roethlisberger's increased productivity has
been
increased production from the No. 2 receiver position. Pittsburgh
doesn't
have a consistent No. 2 guy behind Hines Ward
, but each
week
it seems a new guy steps up. In Antwaan Randle El
, Cedrick
Wilson
and Quincy
Morgan ,
the
Steelers have three guys that combine to make a solid No. 2.
* A big key for the resurgence of the Steelers defense has been the
play of
OLBs Joey Porter
and Clark
Haggans .
Porter
now has 10 sacks for the season and Haggans has nine. Porter had a
pretty
dominant game last week, but for the most part, their sacks have been
spread
out through the season. Their play is critical for this defense because
of
the lack of pure cover corners they have in the secondary. When Porter
and
Haggans get pressure, the Pittsburgh secondary all of sudden looks like
they
can cover. When they don't (see Cincy and Indy), their secondary can't
cover
anyone. That being said, look for Pittsburgh to leave no stone unturned
this
week. This will be another must-win game for them, so look for
defensive
coordinator Dick Lebeau to bring a lot of blitz pressure from different
spots on the field in order to get Lions QB Joey Harrington
to put the
ball
up for grabs and give the Steelers defense some big play opportunities.
* The Lions have not been able to establish the run all season. It has
been
a disappointing season for second year RB Kevin Jones
, who was
expected to have a breakout year. Part of his struggles can be
attributed to
injuries and the rest to plain old ineffectiveness. He has missed three
of
the last four games with an elbow injury, and it appears he will miss
the
season finale too. In his absence, Artose Pinner
has been
getting the majority of the carries. Pinner does not give them the same
big
play ability or inside toughness that Jones brings to the table. Pinner
must
be established early this week though. The Browns could not run the
ball
last week, and it led to their quarterback being beaten, battered and
sacked
eight times. For Detroit to give Harrington any opportunity this week,
Pinner must have a solid day running the football.
* One player in the Lions offense that has fit in nicely is TE Marcus
Pollard .
There
were a lot of people around the league that felt Pollard's best days
were
behind him and that he was at the end of his career. He has proven
those
people wrong though and has had the third most productive season of
this
career with one week left. Pollard has 42 receptions on the season,
only
five away from his career high of 47. He may surpass that total this
week as
he should be counted on heavily in the passing game. The Lions would
like to
establish Pollard early down the middle of the field to prevent
Pittsburgh
SS Troy Polamalu
from
crowding
the line of scrimmage. Pollard will also be the hot receiver on
numerous
occasions when Pittsburgh brings blitz pressure off the edges. Pollard
is a
key component of this offense and really the only other consistent,
legitimate receiving threat after WR Roy Williams
.
* Speaking of receivers, it is official: Detroit's Charles Rogers
is a bust.
A
week after catching 3 balls for 71 yards, he was shutout this past
week.
Rogers is lazy and runs poor routes. He looked extremely lethargic last
week
vs. the Saints and struggled to get open vs. man coverage or find the
voids
in their zone coverage. Rogers, who tested positive for a banned
substance
this season, and the Lions are set to square off this offseason because
the
Lions would like to recoup some of his signing bonus money. We may be
seeing
his last career game in a Detroit uniform this weekend.
* The Detroit Lions
injury woes continue at linebacker. WLB James Davis
was the
last
remaining starter from the group that opened the season. SLB Boss
Bailey
and MLB
Earl
Holmes
have
been fighting injuries all season long. Davis left in the 3rd quarter
this
past week and did not return. He will be listed as questionable on the
injury report.
* If Detroit is going to stop the run, they will need a big day from DT
Shaun Rogers
.
Despite being stuck in the midst of another awful season from the Lions
franchise, there has been no quit in the Pro Bowler. He came up with
his
third consecutive big play in three weeks vs. New Orleans. Rogers
provided
the only TD of the game when he forced a fumble and scooped it up
before
rambling 21 yards for the score. Rogers will be counted on heavily this
week
to make plays in front of a beat up and battered linebacking unit.
Rogers
can be effective both playing 1-gap and 2-gap schemes. Look for the
Lions
coaches to slant him a little more this week in an effort to get him
into
gaps and into the Steelers backfield. There isn't much point in letting
him
stack blocks in front of an out-manned linebacking corps that will be
lacking in playmaking ability. If Rogers can get into the backfield and
make
the Steelers running backs change directions, Detroit's defense will
have a
chance to rally to the ball and make plays at and around the line of
scrimmage.

Special Teams
Lions RS Eddie Drummond
returned
from a
two-week layoff to provide a spark in the return game. He did not have
much
success as a punt return man, but did have a nice 48-yard kick return.
When
healthy, Drummond is still one of the top return men in the NFL. If the
Lions have any chance to win this week, they will need Drummond to have
a
big day in terms of being able to set up the Lions struggling offense
with
good field position.
For consecutive weeks, the Steelers got a big punt return from Randle
El.
The only difference this past week was that he put the ball on the
ground
after a big return. Pittsburgh's cover units have been a little up and
down,
but they need a big game this week to try to contain Drummond. He may
be the
best offensive weapon the Lions have, so containing him should be a top
priority.

Matchups
* Pittsburgh DC Deshea Townsend
vs.
Detroit WR
Roy Williams

* Detroit DC Dominic Raiola
vs.
Pittsburgh
NT Casey Hampton

* Detroit DC Dre Bly vs. Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward

* Pittsburgh ILB James Farrior
vs.
Detroit RB
Artose Pinner

* Detroit LOT Jeff Backus
vs.
Pittsburgh
ROLB Joey Porter


Scouts' Edge
On paper this game is no contest. You have a struggling Lions offense
that
did not score an offensive TD last week going up against a rejuvenated
Pittsburgh defense that pitched a shutout on the road at Cleveland.
Pittsburgh could also need this game to guarantee a playoff spot.
Pittsburgh
is a veteran team that knows how to win when the games matter, and
Cleveland
found that out the hard way last week.
The Steelers will keep doing what got them here. They will establish
the run
early, mix in some throws from Roethlisberger and try to jump out to an
early lead. Once they do that, they will bring in the Bus and start
hammering away on the Lions defense and the game clock. Their goal is
to
shorten the game as much as possible.
The Lions must establish the run, too. This will take pressure off
Harrington. If they can't run the ball, the Steelers will bring a lot
of
blitz pressure into Harrington's face which will result in multiple
turnovers in passing situations. Give Detroit credit because they have
not
quit, but they are in completely over their heads this week on the
road.
Pittsburgh has everything to play for. They sent a message to the rest
of
the league last week in Cleveland, and Detroit should expect to see
more of
the same in this one.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Lions 10
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Old 12-30-2005, 12:07 PM   #2
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These people are wrong. They need to do their research before making predictions.

Lions 42, Steeler 4.
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