The Steelers face the Houston Texans this Sunday. This will be a tough contest between two teams that are both 2-1.
A victory by either team is going to take a solid performance by their entire squad. However, there are a few match-ups that will play a pivotal role in determining the winner of the game.
These are the key match-ups that we’ll be watching during Sunday’s game:
Steelers run defense vs. Arian Foster
Texans’ running back Arian Foster was the NFL’s leading rusher last year. However, he’s battled injuries and has missed most of the 2011 season. He’s scheduled to play against the Steelers.
The Steelers run defense hasn’t looked very impressive so far this season. Baltimore’s Ray Rice made them look like they were standing in quicksand, and they made Indy’s Joseph Addai look like Walter Payton last week. So facing Arian Foster is going to be a real challenge for the Steelers. It will be a good test of how much the defense is improving.
Ike Taylor vs. Andre Johnson
Ike Taylor has been playing at a Pro Bowl level so far this season. Quarterbacks have rarely challenged him, and when they have, their attempts have been unsuccessful.
However, Texans’ wide receiver Andre Johnson may be the best wide receiver in the NFL. He’s big, he’s strong, and he consistently puts up impressive numbers.
This may be the most exciting match-up of the game.
Aaron Smith & LaMarr Woodley vs. Mike Brisiel & Eric Winton
The left side of the Steelers defense has been suspect this season. Teams have run successfully to that side, and LaMarr Woodley has been unable to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
In a 3-4 defense, the defensive end and the outside linebacker work in tandem, so some of the blame for Woodley’s decline may belong to Smith. However, it’s impossible to know if that’s the case. But the one thing that we do know is that both of them need to play better, and it would be great if they did it against the Texans.
Mike Wallace vs. Johnathan Joseph
Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is one of the fastest receivers in the league. He has supplanted Hines Ward as Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite target.
Wallace has had his sixth straight 100-yard receiving game last week against the Colts. If he has 100 or more receiving yards this game, he’ll tie an NFL record.
Wallace said at the beginning of the season that his goal was to have a 2,000 yard receiving season. He’s behind schedule, and will need to have a good game against the Texans.
Texans’ cornerback Johnathan Joseph is no stranger to Mike Wallace. He played for the Cincinnati Bengals before signing with the Texans this off-season. So he’s no stranger to Wallace and his speed. This should be almost as good a match-up as Ike Taylor and Andre Johnson. Almost.
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