By Chris Hayes
C.T.Hayes@iup.eduThis article contains opinion:
The Pittsburgh Steelers head to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles this Sunday in what will certainly be an interesting matchup.
Being from Pittsburgh myself, I have seen and read plenty about the Steelers this year. We all know the basics:
Running back Le’Veon Bell will be out for this game while he serves the final game of his suspension, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and receiver Antonio Brown are one of the top duos in the NFL, and the Steelers’ defense is its biggest question mark this year.
But what about the Eagles?
I’ll be honest, the Eagles have surprised me so far this season. Leading the charge is rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who has been great in his two games starting, passing for more than 400 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Philadelphia’s defense has been solid as well, stifling the Browns in Week 1 and the Bears in Week 2. Led by cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Philly’s D has potential as the season progresses.
Both teams are 2-0 heading into this weekend’s matchup. Most people knew the Steelers would be good this year – many experts even picked them to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
But the Eagles? I don’t think anyone saw this coming.
Let’s take a closer look. Pittsburgh played the Redskins on the road in Week 1. The Redskins aren’t a great team, but winning NFL games on the road is never easy. In Week 2, the Steelers hosted the Bengals, a team that won the AFC North last season with a 12-4 record. That being said, the Steelers’ 2-0 record is well-deserved.
Philadelphia beat Cleveland at home in Week 1. Yes, the Cleveland Browns.
Need I say more?
Last week, they defeated the Chicago Bears on the road.
While definitely more convincing than the Browns win, this game was also one the Eagles should have won anyway.
Chicago is a bad team at the moment, with a struggling quarterback in Jay Cutler.
I think by now you are catching my drift here. Look, I’m a Pittsburgh guy. I love my Steelers, Pirates and Penguins.
But let’s give Philadelphia some credit, if only just a little. Wentz has been great so far, albeit against poor competition.
His real test will come Sunday.
Will he continue his smashing success against an actual good team, or will we begin to see the classic rookie struggles?
I don’t know for sure, but I do know that right now, Pittsburgh is the better football team.
By Sean Fritz
This article contains opinion:
For Eagles fans, this great start has been much more than a two-game win streak to start the season. If you haven’t heard by now, the excitement and buzz around Philadelphia has been centered on their rookie quarterback, Carson Wentz.
Wentz, who played his college football at Division I-AA North Dakota State University, has been lights out for rookie head coach Doug Pederson and the Eagles thus far. Heading into Week 3, Wentz, Pederson, a stout defensive front and the rest of the Eagles are 2-0, outscoring opponents, 58-24, and are tied for the lead in the subpar NFC East.
With a weak division to compete with for a title, Philadelphia has regained a sudden surge of energy from their young quarterback and rookie head coach, both of whom received mostly negative criticism over the entire offseason from doubters.
Feeling atop the world after an impressive start against two poor opponents, Philadelphia is thinking they have found their new franchise quarterback, the first sign of one since Donavan McNabb in his decade-long tenure with the Birds.
Even with all those high hopes and now sudden expectations, the team itself will have to gear up and prepare for their opponent this Sunday, the 2-0 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh, who was a playoff team a year ago and Super Bowl contenders this season, look to rain on the parade in South Philadelphia come 4:25 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are the two biggest contributors for Pittsburgh offensively, and are arguably the best one-two punch at quarterback and receiver in the league.
Defensively for Pittsburgh, they are pretty solid up front within their front seven, but are very inconsistent on the back end in the secondary, a place that seems to have been a revolving door for them over the past few years.
Aside from what they’ve got on the field, on the sidelines roams 2008 Super Bowl-winning head coach, Mike Tomlin.
So the question is, how does Philadelphia stand a chance? Let’s break it down.
First off, both teams are very similar in strengths and weaknesses. Offensively, Pittsburgh clearly has the skill players that Philadelphia lacks, and also the experience at a lot of the positions.
The biggest comparison offensively lately has been the quarterbacks.
Wentz and Roethlisberger, both big, physical and somewhat mobile play-extending quarterbacks with big arms who take a lot of hits.
Roethlisberger, over his 12-year career, has been as banged up as anyone in the league. So, how does Philadelphia compete?
It’s simple: Their defensive line needs to get a lot of pressure on Roethlisberger and put a lot of hits on him when they do.
For all those out there calling that defensive line overrated, just look at what they have done in the first two weeks, knocking both starting quarterbacks out for an extended period moving forward. Led by All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, this has got to be the biggest key for the Eagles heading into Sunday.
The Eagles must also win the turnover battle. Philadelphia has yet to turn the ball over this season, and the defense has created many turnovers.
Roethlisberger himself has turned it over a few times this season, and if he does Sunday, the Eagles will be in great shape if they can capitalize.
The third and final key for an Eagles victory is to use that home-field advantage and set the tone physically and emotionally with the help of “the worst fans in sports.”
Lincoln Financial Field will be rocking on Sunday and it will be an intense atmosphere, one that will certainly make opposing players and fans uncomfortable, just how the Eagles fans want it.
It has been a long time since things have been this positive in Philadelphia sports, and I expect “The Linc” to reflect just how upwards things are appearing in the City of Brotherly Love.