The Steelers offense has faced some great defenses this year; coupled with a shoulder injury to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and runningback Rashard Mendenhall (their rookie runningback) getting put on injured reserve and the offense has not performed as well as expected. Roethlisberger threw for 3,300 yards and 17 TDs, but had 15 picks to go along with them. These mistakes have proven costly in some games; in comparison last year Roethlisberger threw 32 TDs with only 11 picks. He is coming off of a concussion, but has had the week off to rest up; it will be interesting to see if he has any cobwebs.
|2008 - Ben Roethlisberger||17||80.1||281||469||59.9||3301||194.2||7.0||17||15||34||101||5.9||3.0||2||46||284|
The Steelers have two good wide receivers with Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward. Ward has caught for over 1,000 yards and Holmes finished with over 800 yards on the season. Heath Miller is the prime receiving tight end, he ended the season with over 500 yards and three touch downs. When these teams locked up in week 11 Hines Ward had over 120 yards, Holmes chipped in for 63 and Spaeth (the Steelers other tight end) had over 50. Roethlisberger had a great day with over 300 yards and no interceptions, but also couldn't find the end zone. Rivera seems to really gravitate to the nickel package; if the Charger defensive line can contain the run game I expect to see Cason on the field a lot. The nickel was very effective in the second half against the Colts after Cason got safety help over the top with Gonzalez.
This year the offense has shifted away from the power I running formation; it is not often you will see a fullback on the field. In that absence and the injury to Mendenhall the Steelers rushing attack has faltered pretty badly. They ended up ranked 23rd in the NFL; rushing for just 105 yards per game. Willie Parker is their main back is averaging 3.8 YPC; their other back is Mewelde Moore is at 4.2 YPC; both have 5 TDs on the season. Willie Parker rushed for 115 yards on 25 carries when they last met met.
|2008 - Willie Parker||11||210||791||71.9||3.8||34||5||3||13||1.2||4.3||5||0|
With the possibility of snow and cold weather perhaps dampening the passing attack; it is possible that the team that runs the ball better will carry the day. While the Chargers defense has played much better against the run with Jamal Williams and Stephen Cooper stepping up in the middle; the Steelers run defense allowed only 80 yards per game. It would be an interesting wrinkle if they came out with a lot of the I formation to try and throw the Chargers off balance. There is little doubt that the key to throwing this offense of stride is bringing consistent heat on Roethlisberger.