11-0. Huh. Who would’ve thought our Pittsburgh Steelers would be the only undefeated team in the NFL through 12 weeks, coming off of a season where the Steelers went 8-8 and ranked last or close to it in almost every offensive statistic. Many have attributed this massive jump in not only offensive but team success to the return of Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben’s presence can not be understated in any way. Not only is he an extremely good quarterback, he is the team’s leader, the engine to a well oiled black and gold machine. Big Ben is having a career year, which is no easy task for a quarterback who will be a first ballot hall of famer. With this being said, some people have raised concerns about Ben’s ability to stay healthy through the season’s final stretch. Ben has been dealing with a knee injury for a good portion of the season, and he was limited in this past week’s practices preparing for Washington. In my opinion, the person who should decide whether or not Ben should play should be Ben himself, as he has dealt with many different types of injuries throughout his long career. However, Ben is expected to suit up against the Football Team, and I believe as long as Ben believes he is ready to go, then he should be fine to suit up.
Another interesting story surrounding this game is an unusual situation that not many NFL teams have to face throughout a season. The Steelers Pro Bowl kicker Chris Boswell is not going to play in the game today, meaning practice squad kicker Matthew Wright will be suiting up for kickoffs, extra points, and field goals today. This could prove quite costly for the Steelers, who could very likely depend on their kicker for much needed points, as they have many a time with Boswell. If Wright does not step up to the plate, the outcome of this game could very well be decided by a missed field goal or a botched extra point. Because of this, the Steelers must up their game and not have to place all their hopes in the hands of a guy who has never kicked in an NFL game before.
During last week’s game against the Ravens, the Steelers suffered a devastating loss; one of their best defensive players, Bud Dupree, suffered a season ending ACL tear. This loss is not only bad for the team who relies heavily on Bud as one of their best pass rushers, but it will undoubtedly result in Dupree receiving less money for his services in this coming offseason, as he will be a free agent when the season ends. However, while Dupree will be gone, Stephon Tuitt will return for this game after missing last week’s game due to COVID-19. Tuitt will make a big impact for the Steelers front 7, specifically with his ability to stop the run. Replacing Dupree at the outside linebacker spot will be Alex Highsmith, a 3rd round pick out of Charlotte who was taken by the Steelers in this past years draft. Highsmith has seen limited playing time this year due to the depth at his position, but this injury will result in him moving into the starting lineup. I believe that Tuitt’s return and the presence of TJ Watt at the other outside linebacker position will allow Highsmith to make a gradual transition into his new role, and will allow him to learn what it is his teammates will rely on him for.
Today’s game will not be a walk in the park for the Steelers, as some might expect. The Washington Football Team has been on an upward trend, now having won their last two games and moving to 4-7 on the year. This team seems to have a chip on their shoulders, as they finished last in the entire NFL last year in terms of their record, and they are here to prove that they can swim with the sharks. Today will be their ultimate test to prove what they can do, if they can get a win today, they will undoubtedly prove that they are the team to beat in the NFC East. However, just because Washington has been playing well recently does not mean that they will just waltz into Heinz Field and show up the Steelers. The Steelers are the better football team (wordplay unintentional) today and I believe they will show it. I believe this game will result in a win for the Steelers, with a final score being somewhere around 31-17.