Pittsburgh Steelers vs Minnesota Vikings Preview
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Minnesota Vikings Preview! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, provides a game outlook, score prediction, individual stats, team stats, Fantasy Football impact, the most up-to-date injury report, and even the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
Overall Record: 1-0
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (11th Season with Steelers)
Overall Regular Season Record: 104-57 (.646)
Playoff Record: 8-6 (Qualified for playoffs 7 times)
Last Game: Steelers 21 Browns 18
Breakdown of the Steelers
Quarterback- Ben Roethlisberger leads a power offense that can beat you via the ground or the air. Big Ben has been outstanding at home but has struggled to put up the same numbers on the road the past few seasons.
Running Backs- Le’Veon Bell is the best all-around back in the NFL, with much respect to David Johnson. Bell can kill you on the ground with his speed and elusiveness. He is patient, often delaying a second to find the hole to burst through. Bell is also dangerous out of the backfield as a pass catcher. James Conner will spell Bell from time to time.
Wide Receivers- Antonio Brown is considered one of the best receivers in the game. You can count on five catches for at least 50 yards every week at a minimum. This wideout group is extremely deep and talented. Martavis Bryant is back from suspension and is a deep threat on every play with his size and speed. Eli Rogers is excellent from the slot. Justin Hunter has superior speed and is also a deep threat. Rookie Juju Schuster-Smith is looking to make his mark in the NFL in his first season. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams but is a reliable player when called upon in the passing game.
Tight Ends- Jesse James is the starter and becoming one of Roethlisberger’s favorite targets around the endzone. Vance McDonald is a big target that can make splash plays for Roethlisberger across the middle and inside the redzone. Xavier Grimble is also a nice target for Ben inside the 10-yard line.
Defense- The Steelers defense is primed for an awakening in 2017. On the 3-4 defensive line, it’s Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave, and Stephon Tuitt. Daniel McCullers will rotate with Hargrave. Should Tuitt or Heyward go down, Tyson Alualu or L.T. Walton would step in.
At linebacker, rookie TJ Watt starts at OLB, with Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams in the middle. Bud Dupree stands opposite of Watt. Both can get at the quarterback and disrupt the opposing team’s passing game. Shazier is a stud in the middle and his speed makes him a nightmare for any QB who makes a mistake across the middle. Don’t count out James Harrison, who will rotate in to spell Watt or Dupree. Anthony Chickillo will also step in for injuries to Watt or Dupree on the outside and is making a name for himself every time he steps on the field.
The secondary has been revamped with the addition of Joe Haden at corner. He won’t have to guard the opposing team’s #1 wide receiver on every down, as that job falls to Artie Burns. Mike Mitchell lines up at free safety, with JJ Wilcox backing him up if injured. Sean Davis is getting better by the game at strong safety. Mike Hilton and Will Gay will be in at slot corner positions when called upon.
A look at the Minnesota Vikings!
Overall Record: 1-0
Head Coach: Mike Zimmer (4th Season with Vikings)
Overall Regular Season Record: 27-22 (.551)
Playoff Record: 0-1 (Qualified for playoffs 1 times)
Last Week: Vikings 29 Saints 17
Breakdown of the Vikings
Quarterback- Sam Bradford has resurrected his career in Minnesota after the injury to Teddy Bridgewater.
Running Backs- Dalvin Cook is the starter and has nice quickness. Cook is also dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. Latvius Murray backs him up.
Wide Receivers- The Vikings have a nice 1-2 punch with Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Diggs scored twice in the season opener.
Tight Ends- Kyle Rudolph is one of the best in the game. Steelers have had issues with physical tight ends in the past, so he had best be accounted for inside the red zone.
Defense- The Vikings defense held Drew Brees and the Saints in check last week. Can they do that again vs the Steelers?
In the 2017 season opener, the Steelers offense, expected to be among one of the top units in the NFL, was often stale and stagnant. One could point to the starters only playing around 4-5 series the entire preseason, or that Le’Veon Bell held out of Camp until the final exhibition game had been played, but the biggest hurdle the Steelers faced was the endless penalties they had last Sunday against the Browns.
A delay of game, four holding calls, and an illegal peelback (that one was cheap to me) stagnated the Steelers offense time and time again.
“You can have whatever discussion you want to have regarding our lack of production on offense,” Tomlin said. “You can talk it up to Le’Veon missing camp. You can talk about them being dominant. You can talk about whatever you want to talk about. The reality is, when you are penalized like we were in the game, you are going to lose your balance. It’s going to put you behind chains. You’re going to lose third downs. You’re not going to get as many snaps as you’d like, and the point total is going to reflect it, and it did for us.”
One thing is for certain… 47 total yards from scrimmage isn’t going to cut it for Bell, who was only on the field for 72 percent of the offensive snaps.
“I definitely want to be out there every play,” Bell said.
The Steelers used four receiver sets early and often vs the Browns, and Bell was surprised he wasn’t one of those receivers out of the backfield.
“I’m just going to play in the game scheme,” Bell said Wednesday. “Whatever the plan is, I’ll go out and execute to the best of my ability. When the opportunities present themselves, I’m going to go out there and make plays.”
This is a guy who played in 97 percent of the offensive snaps last season in the seven game win streak the team ended on last year. Bell missed only one of those games, that being the last vs Cleveland, when the division crown was wrapped up.
Ben Roethlisberger just attributed it to the team trying to get all of it’s talent on the field to make plays.
“We’ve got a lot of guys we’re able to get on the field,” Roethlisberger said. “We want to be able to get JuJu on the field, and that’s what that does. It’s an opportunity to get him on the field and create even more of a mismatch problem.”
Bell feels the more he’s in, the stronger he’ll get as the game rolls on.
“The more I’m involved, the better I get throughout the course of a game,” Bell said. “I start figuring out players and the way they are playing, the game speed. I tend to feel I’m in better shape (than others). When it’s the third quarter and people feel like they are in the third quarter, I’m just getting started. That’s what I pride myself on, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.”
It’s not complicated with this team. On defense, the team is successful when pressure is applied to the opposing quarterback resulting in sacks and poor throws.
On offense, this team is built to attack downfield, not sideline to sideline.
The Steelers need to establish the ground game via Bell and get him into a rhythm. A few deep throws to Martavis Bryant or Antonio Brown should keep the Vikings from crowding the line of scrimmage. No matter when Todd Haley employs a four or five receiver set, Bell should be one of the players out on the field the majority of the time.
With Sam Bradford a little iffy with a sore knee, you can expect the Steelers to bring plenty of blitzes to make his life as uncomfortable as possible. The Vikings have some quality weapons in Dalvin Cook, Stephon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. You can’t help but love the hard-hitting nature the defense has returned to. Yes, it may draw a few penalties on absolute terrible calls, but opposing players will take notice and develop alligator arms when thinking about getting obliterated.
The jump from week one to week two in execution is usually big with seasoned NFL teams, so look for the Steelers offense to get it rolling in front of what will no doubt be a raucous crowd at Heinz Field this Sunday.
Prediction: Steelers 30 Vikings 20
Fantasy Football Impact
Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, Steelers D
Sleeper: TE Jesse James, WR Martavis Bryant
It’s hard to ever keep Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown out of your line-up. Like if they were kidnapped or missing from the game. Ben Roethlisberger is usually lights out at home, and average at best on the road. The Steeler Defense is back in creating points off of sacks and turnovers. I have Jesse James and Martavis Bryant listed as sleepers until I see more week to week consistent numbers from them that would put them ahead of other in their positions.
Start: WR Stephon Diggs, TE Kyle Rudolph
Sleeper: RB Dalvin Cook, WR Adam Thielen
I can definitely see Stephon Diggs or Adam Thielen getting some nice numbers this week, especially if the Vikings have to play catch-up. All depends on which of them Artie Burns is covering. Dalvin Cook was impressive last week, but RB’s generally have bad numbers against the Steelers Defense historically. Kyle Rudolph is a guy you have in your line-up every week if you have him.
NFL Week 2
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
Venue:Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Game-time: Sunday, September 17th, 1:00 pm
TV: FOX (Local WPGH-TV) | Announcers: Kenny Albert (play-by-play) Ronde Barber (analyst) | Kristina Pink (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: ESPN Radio | Announcers: Adam Amin (play-by-play) Bill Polian (analyst)
Weather at Kickoff: 82 and sunny.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -5.5
- Series History: Series began in 1962.
- The Steelers are 7-9 in the overall Regular Season series against the Vikings.
- Steelers lead the series playing at home 5-4.
- Streak: Vikings won previous meeting.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Sept. 29, 2013, at Minnesota: Minnesota 34 Pittsburgh 27
- Steelers are 1-0 in the Post-Season vs the Vikings.
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 12, 1975, in New Orleans, La. Super Bowl IX: Pittsburgh 16 Minnesota 6
With a win, the Steelers will move to 15-2 in its regular season home openers at Heinz Field since the stadium opened in 2001.
- With a win Mike Tomlin would improve to 10-1 in regular-season home openers with the Steelers.
- Ben Roethlisberger will become the 10th quarterback in NFL history to throw for at least 300 yards in 50 regular-season games and the ninth to do so with one team with 300 yards or more on Sunday (Carson Palmer has 49 games entering Week 2). • Is 12 completions from surpassing Drew Bledsoe (3,839) for ninth in NFL history.
- Roethlisberger is 12 completions from surpassing Drew Bledsoe (3,839) for ninth in NFL history.
- Antonio Brown needs one touchdown catch to tie Lynn Swann (51) for the third-most touchdown grabs in team history.
- Le’Veon Bell’s next 100-yard rushing game will mark the 15th of his NFL career and will tie John Henry Johnson for the ﬁfth-most 100-yard games in Steelers history.
- Bell needs three rushing scores to match Rashard Mendenhall (29) for ﬁfth-most in franchise history
- James Harrison is a half-sack from 80.0 in his career with the Steelers.
- William Gay will break a tie with Rod Woodson to set the record for the most interceptions returned for touchdowns in team history with his next pick six of six.
QB- Ben Roethlisberger (263 yards passing | 2 TD passes | 1 interceptions | 1 sacks)
RB- Le’Veon Bell (32 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 3 receptions | 15 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- James Conner (11 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Antonio Brown (11 receptions | 182 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Martavis Bryant (2 receptions | 14 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Eli Rogers (2 receptions | 11 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Justin Hunter (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Darrius Heyward-Bey (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Juju Schuster-Smith (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Jesse James (6 receptions | 41 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
TE- Vance McDonald (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Xavier Grimble (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 3-3 | FG: 0-0 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 0-0 | 40-49: 0-0 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: N/A)
QB- Sam Bradford (346 yards passing | 3 TD passes | 0 interceptions | 1 sack)
RB- Dalvin Cook (127 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 3 receptions | 10 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Latavius Murray (6 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Jerick McKinnon (5 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 3 receptions | 32 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Adam Thielen (9 receptions | 157 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Stephon Diggs (7 receptions | 93 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Jarius Wright (1 receptions | 21 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Kyle Rudolph (3 receptions | 26 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
K- Kai Forbath (Extra Point: 2-3 | FG: 3-3 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 1-1 | 30-39: 1-1 | 40-49: 1-1 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 45)
Steelers – Vikings: Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Steelers Offense: Steelers average 298 YPG | Vikings allow 384 YPG
Rushing: Steelers average 35 YPG | Vikings allow 60 YPG
Passing: Steelers average 263 YPG | Vikings allow 284 YPG
Scoring: Steelers average 21 PPG | Vikings allow 19 PPG
Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 237 YPG | Vikings average 475 YPG
Rushing: Steelers allow 57 YPG | Vikings average 129 YPG
Passing: Steelers allow 180 YPG | Vikings average 346 YPG
Scoring: Steelers allow 18 PPG | Vikings average 29 PPG
Injury Report (9/15/2017)
Out: T Jerald Hawkins (Knee)
Questionable: TE Vance McDonald (Back), DE Stephon Tuitt (Biceps), S J.J. Wilcox (Concussion)
Questionable: LB Anthony Barr (Hamstring), QB Sam Bradford (Knee), CB Xavier Rhodes (Hip)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 Schedule
Friday, Aug. 11 @ New York Giants W, 20-12 (KDKA)
Sunday, Aug. 20 ATLANTA W, 17-13 (KDKA)
Saturday, Aug. 26 INDIANAPOLIS L, 19-15 (KDKA)
Thursday, Aug. 31 @ Carolina W, 17-14 (KDKA)
REGULAR SEASON (1-0)
Sunday, Sept. 10 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. (CBS), W– 21-18
Sunday, Sept. 17 MINNESOTA 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sunday, Sept. 24 @ Chicago 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 1 @ Baltimore 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 8 JACKSONVILLE* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 15 @ Kansas City* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 22 CINCINNATI* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 29 @ Detroit* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 5 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Nov. 12 @ Indianapolis* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Thursday, Nov. 16 TENNESSEE 8:25 p.m. (NBC/ NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Nov. 26 GREEN BAY* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Monday, Dec. 4 @ Cincinnati 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Dec. 10 BALTIMORE* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 17 NEW ENGLAND* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 25 @ Houston 4:30 p.m. (NBC/ NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Dec. 31 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
- Times may change due to ﬂexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 6-7 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 13-14 Divisional Playoﬀ Games
Sunday, Jan. 21 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 28 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 4 Super Bowl LII (Minneapolis, Minn.)