The Pittsburgh Steelers head to Dallas on Sunday for a Week 9 match-up with the Cowboys. Prior to the start of the season, this looked to be a prime-time match-up for the NFL. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, this season hasn’t gone to plan. They lose Dak Prescott for the season and their defense has struggled to stop anyone they have played.
Steelers at Cowboys – 5 Keys to the Game for Pittsburgh:
1.) Manipulate the Cowboys Young QB
The Steelers have one of the best defenses in the NFL this season. On Sunday, they will get a match-up with a young quarterback making their first start. Right now it appears Garrett Gilbert will get the start on Sunday, but there has also been talk of Cooper Rush getting the nod.
Either way, the Steelers defense will be playing a quarterback with less than six career NFL pass attempts. The Cowboys are also playing with a make-shift offensive line due to multiple injuries. This could be the perfect formula for a big defensive day in week 9.
TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, Stephon Tuitt, and Cameron Heyward should have plenty of opportunities to get after the quarterback. It is also very likely that the Steelers will take Ezekiel Elliott and the run game out of the equation Sunday and force Gilbert or Rush to try and beat them through the air. That could end very poorly for the Cowboys.
2.) Let James Conner Run Wild
Dallas is the worst team in the league against the run. The Cowboys are allowing over 170 yards per game on the ground. Pittsburgh should take advantage of that statistic and let James Conner run wild this week. Running the ball will keep the defense off the field and also can shorten this game by taking a lot of time off the clock.
Don’t be surprised if James Conner has his best game of the season this week and continues a very good 2020 season.
3.) Be Careful of Trickery
Games like this can always be tricky. The Cowboys have nothing to lose at this point. Their season is effectively over and they are going to have to find some kind of big-play if they want to keep this game close.
Fake punts, onside kicks, and offensive trick plays could all show up during this game. Those plays have two outcomes. First, the Cowboys could get a big momentum-shifting play that makes them feel like they can win this game. Either that or the Steelers see it coming stop it in its tracks and it backfires on the Cowboys.
4.) Don’t Get Caught in the Trap
This goes along with the previous key. It seems every year the Steelers lose a game they have no business losing. That said, the Steelers can’t let this be that game. After a big win over the Ravens, the Steelers have to win this week over a bad Cowboys team.
Pittsburgh needs to not overlook the Cowboys this week. In fact, this will be important for the Steelers in four of the next five weeks. The only winning team the Steelers play from now until December 13 is the Baltimore Ravens. They need to not fall into the trap in any of those games, especially if they want a shot at the number-one seed in the AFC and a division title.
5.) Avoid Injuries
The Steelers are expected to win big on Sunday. If they play the way they have been that shouldn’t be a problem. Staying healthy will be the game within the game. In a game like this, where the Steelers are so heavily favored, one of the only ways they can lose Sunday is if they have any major injuries.