The Pittsburgh Steelers will try to start 3-0 for the first time since 2010 when they travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears, who will try to avoid their third consecutive 0-3 start. On paper this seems like a mismatch, but with the Steelers propensity to play down to their competition and a combination of a veteran coach in John Fox and a quarterback that led an upset at Heinz Field in 2014 as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there is much intrigue in this matchup on Sunday.
Week 3 Enemy Intel: Chicago Bears
Mike Glennon is the man under center for the Bears. He has something to prove while trying to hold off 2017 #2 overall pick, Mitch Trubisky. Glennon has played this season with his two starting receivers on IR in Kevin White and Cameron Meredith. Glennon’s top three receiving threats are a fourth round rookie, running back Talik Cohan, with 16 catches and journeymen Kendall Wright and Zach Miller each with 10 catches apiece. The Bears may be without both starting guards Josh Sutton and Kyle Long and tackle Tom Compton. One thing that Glennon must not do, if the Bears are to have a chance, is to turn the ball over. Glennon got sacked and fumbled that led to a touchdown and he threw a pick six also last Sunday against Tampa Bay.
The Bears game plan under Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is to run the ball with Jordan Howard, who is currently averaging 2.7 yards a carry on the young season, which is down from 5.2 from his stellar rookie season. Howard’s stats can be explained by the injuries on the offensive line and his own shoulder injury. That is where Cowen and a potential X factor for the Bears in former Steelers receiver Markus Wheaton come in.
Wheaton has not played thus far this season due to a broken finger and he can give Glennon a downfield threat that he has sorely lacked. Glennon has only completed one pass on three attempts on passes 20 yards or more downfield this season.
People believe that this should be the week that Le’Veon Bell will break out of his “slump”. If you look at the matchup on paper, the Bears are currently ranked 25th in the league in total defense. However, they are only giving up 3.2 yards per rush, which is good for 10th in the league. Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio likes to use a two gap 3-4 defense that use Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman to anchor the run and Leonard Floyd as their main edge rusher. Floyd is off to a slow start this season with six tackles and zero sacks, but hopes to get help this week from former Raven Pharnell McPhee who forced a fumble last week against Tampa Bay and has made big plays against the Steelers in the past.
The secondary will try to contain the Steelers passing attack with the debut of former Giant cornerback Prince Amukamara. The Bears also added veterans Marcus Cooper and Quentin Demps this offseason, but they have struggled at times against the pass and have not recorded one interception and have only forced one takeaway in the 2017 season.
My Take and Prediction
The Steelers will play a feisty Chicago Bears team that will play tough, but conservative at times, and will strike at an opportunity to seize momentum. The longer the Bears crowd is in the game the more confident the Bears will be. I feel that the difference in the game will be the pressure that the front seven the Steelers will bring on Glennon, which will force at least two second half turnovers that will put the Steelers over in this matchup. I believe that Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant will combine for 175 yards and two touchdowns against a shaky secondary while Le’Veon Bell will go for 80 yards rushing. I predict the Steelers will win by the score 27-17.