Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Semi-Coherent Preview

Aug 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (33) carries the ball as Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) pursues during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (33) carries the ball as Philadelphia Eagles inside linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) pursues during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

A preview of this week’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers

We learned a couple of things in the Philadelphia Eagles‘ game against the Chicago Bears last week:

  1. The Eagles can beat lousy teams.
  2. Carson Wentz is the GREATEST QUARTERBACK EVER!

Wentz may not actually be the greatest quarterback ever…but he’s been pretty good so far. Can he – and the rest of the team – continue to play well when they take on what appears to be their toughest opponent to date?

Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 2-0

Last week: Defeated Cincinnati Bengals 24-16

Head coach: Mike Tomlin

The last time they met

There was a time during the 2012 season that people were optimistic about the Eagles’ chances. Heading into their week five game against the Steelers, they were 3-1 and coming off a dramatic victory over the Giants. Would that success continue?

More from Philadelphia Eagles

Midway through the fourth quarter, a touchdown catch by Brent Celek gave the Eagles a slim 14-13 lead, and it was up to the defense to protect it. The defense failed. The Steelers kicked a field goal as the clock expired.

But that was just one loss, right? As it turned out, that was just the start of the bad times. The Eagles went on to lose their next eight games.

What’s the deal with the Steelers

Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 18, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) rushes the ball against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 24-16. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports /

With star running back LeVeon Bell suspended for the first four games of the season, some suspected that the Steelers might struggle early in the season. Thus far, that hasn’t been the case. They’ve started the season with two impressive victories that have many pundits naming them Super Bowl contenders.

Bell’s absence hasn’t slowed their offense down much. Unbelievably, DeAngelo Williams is not only still in the league, but he’s actually playing well. He has 237 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The ground attack has provided a solid complement to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who already has six touchdown passes.

Defensively, the Steelers rank 22nd in yards allowed, but only 8th in points allowed. They also don’t sack the quarterback, as they have only recorded one so far this season. For anyone worried that Wentz has taken too many hits, that’s encouraging.

Featured Steelers player: Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown was already considered one of the league’s biggest stars before the season. In week one, he shined even brighter when he destroyed the Redskins and celebrated a touchdown by twerking:

I do have to detract some points for ripping off Key and Peele.

Original or not, Brown may be the best receiver in the league, and it will be a tough task shutting him down. Last week, rookie corner Jalen Mills had some early trouble covering Alshon Jeffery. How will he hold up if forced to spend too many plays shadowing Brown by himself?

Reason to hate the Steelers

Philadelphia Eagles
Oct 26, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; A Pittsburgh Steelers fan waves a terrible towel during the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports /

It would be nice if the Steelers could go through a 20+ year stretch of irrelevancy like the Cowboys have. That way, we’d lose a bunch of the “diehard” Steelers fans who seem to populate every single sports bar, regardless of whether the Steelers are playing.

Seriously, I’d love to watch an NFL game in public and not have to sit next to a guy in a Jerome Bettis jersey waving a towel and loudly shouting about how many Super Bowls the Steelers have won.

Key Eagles storyline

Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) prepares to snap the ball against the Cleveland Browns at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles won 29-10. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite the 2-0 start, the Eagles’ offensive line hasn’t looked all that great. Jason Kelce‘s struggles were the most publicized last week, and while they may be somewhat overblown, it’s worrying that the line couldn’t seem to create much running room for the backs.

Unfortunately, the problem isn’t likely to get better after this week. Lane Johnson was finally suspended by the league, and while an appeal might get the suspension reduced, it’s almost certain that he’ll miss some time.

The Wentz Watch

Carson Wentz isn’t the first rookie quarterback to go 2-0 in his first two games. (I mean, Ryan Leaf did it!) Unfortunately, many of those quarterbacks were unable to sustain that success as the season – and their careers – went on.

There are reasons for hope: He isn’t just winning games due to raw physical tools, or because he’s gotten lucky. (I don’t recall more than one “that could have been an interception” throw.) He seems to have an uncanny mental grasp on the game, and so far, opposing defenses haven’t found a way to confuse him.

It’s a given that he’s going to struggle at some point. Defensive coordinators are looking at game film to uncover weaknesses in his game. And the real key will be how well Wentz adjusts.

But that’s a concern for the future. So far, Wentz has played well twice and the Eagles have won both his starts. You can’t do any better than that.

Obligatory mention of the Steagles

Every four years, the Eagles and Steelers play each other, and we get to hear the announcers talk about the Steagles. During World War II, when it was tough to find enough able-bodied men to fill out a football team, the Eagles and Steelers combined for a season.

Last year, when I saw that my Steelers-loving  co-worker (it’s okay, he’s one of the good ones) had a Steelers Mr. Potato Head. I decided to take my Eagles Mr. Potato Head and make a Steagles version.

Tweets of non-importance

Each week, I’ll survey Twitter to find some of the best (by which I mean worst) tweets from fans of the opposing team.

Hooray! Roethlisberger is no longer sexually assaulting people! Now let’s all pretend that those incidents never happened.

Of course, ESPN’s Power Rankings are not legally binding. Unless proposition 304 passes, and we all pray it will.

He says we shouldn’t worry about things that happened in the past. Wanna bet he’s talked about the Steelers’ six Super Bowl wins at some point?

Mocking the East

Half the fun of being an Eagles fan is when their division rivals fail. I’ll periodically take a look around the NFC East and highlight some of the misfortunes that have befallen the other division teams.

Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jack Crawford (58) sacks Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) in the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Every few years or so, the Washington Redskins manage not to be horrible and sneak their way into the playoffs. Each time this happens, Redskins fans become delusional about the team’s chances the following season. That optimism is quickly crushed when the team returns to its previous state of awfulness.

The Redskins won the NFC East with a 9-7 record last year. Did the fact that they only won nine games and didn’t beat any winning teams slow down the hype in the DC area? Of course not! Buoyed by the addition of star cornerback Josh Norman, most Redskins fans were convinced another division title was imminent.

Naturally, the team is 0-2, and the locker room seems to be an unhappy place. Some players are rumored to be complaining about the quarterback, while others are openly wondering why the coaching staff can’t seem to make in-game adjustments.

Next: Wentz Watches Game Film During Dates


The Steelers certainly seem to be a step up in competition, and the defense probably won’t be able to hold them under 20 points. Can the offense keep up? Wentz will give it a shot, but I think they come up just short.

Steelers 24 – Eagles 20