VIK­INGS (1-0) VS. STEEL­ERS (1-0)


USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - WEEK 2 MATCH UP - Ru­dolph, Sam Brad­ford Ben Roeth­lis­berger Brown T.J. Watt Le’Veon Bell Mar­tavis Bryant phon Tuitt Dalvin Cook An­to­nio SteMatchup to watch: Vik­ings CB Xavier Rhodes vs. Brown. Player to watch: Steel­ers DE Cameron Hey­ward. Num­ber crunch­ing: 19.

An­nounc­ers: Kenny Al­bert, Ronde Bar­ber, Kristina Pink

About the Vik­ings: They have re­vamped of­fense that fea­tures RB and is still find­ing a rhythm with new faces on the of­fen­sive line and new roles for the re­ceiv­ing corps. That line will be tested by a Steel­ers de­fen­sive front that was dom­i­nant in the sea­son opener, but the Vik­ings be­lieve Cook (127 yards rush­ing in Week 1) can keep the Steel­ers hon­est. QB will see how the Browns used their tight ends last week against the Steel­ers and try to at­tack with TE

who caught a touch­down in Week 1. On the de­fen­sive side, the Vik­ings need their tal­ented and ex­pe­ri­enced front seven to limit the run game and try to make the Steel­ers one-di­men­sional. The Steel­ers will cre­ate big plays, but if the Vik­ings can win the turnover bat­tle and limit those big plays, they’ll be in the game in the fourth quar­ter.

About the Steel­ers: The run­ning game never got rolling in the sea­son opener, but QB

and WR were on their games and rookie OLB

was dom­i­nant in his de­but. The Steel­ers think they have the pieces to be a Su­per Bowl team and re­main con­fi­dent that RB will only im­prove af­ter he sat out of train­ing camp and the en­tire pre­sea­son. WR is back from sus­pen­sion, too, which means that as tal­ented as Brown is, he’s far from a one-man show. The de­fense is more ex­pe­ri­enced and more tal­ented than it was last year, too, but DE

was in­jured early in last week’s game, just a cou­ple of days af­ter he signed a long-term con­tract ex­ten­sion. Steel­ers wide re­ceiver An­to­nio Brown was on his game in the opener.

The Vik­ings gave Rhodes a megabucks ex­ten­sion be­cause they trust him to cover the top re­ceivers on their sched­ule. No one is bet­ter than Brown right now, and his per­for­mance last week not only sealed the Steel­ers’ win but should keep fu­ture op­po­nents on alert. Roeth­lis­berger will throw it in Brown’s gen­eral di­rec­tion in just about any sit­u­a­tion, and Rhodes will need help.


The Steel­ers weren’t the same de­fense in the sec­ond half of last sea­son af­ter Hey­ward tore a chest mus­cle. He’s back and was at times dom­i­nant in the opener. With Tuitt likely to miss some time if not the rest of the sea­son, Hey­ward be­comes even more im­por­tant in a re­vamped front seven.

It had been 19 years since the Steel­ers blocked a punt for a touch­down be­fore they did it on the open­ing se­ries last week. When an of­fense with that much fire­power gets bonus points, the Steel­ers be­come dif­fi­cult to beat.


1. Let it rip: Brown caught a deep one to help the Steel­ers pre­serve their win last week and drew a pass in­ter­fer­ence on an­other long ball dur­ing a cru­cial sec­ond-half drive. Es­pe­cially with Bryant get­ting back to full speed, look for Roeth­lis­berger to con­tinue to try stretch op­pos­ing de­fenses.

2. En­core per­for­mance: Hey­ward and Watt were es­pe­cially ac­tive in the Browns’ back­field. The Vik­ings have a rookie cen­ter and three new of­fen­sive line­men, and the Steel­ers want to take full ad­van­tage.

3. On alert: The Vik­ings have a tal­ented and ex­pe­ri­enced sec­ondary across the board, a group good enough to get phys­i­cal with the Steel­ers’ re­ceivers and chal­lenge them.

4. Shorten the game: Es­pe­cially be­cause they’re on a short week, the Vik­ings need to help their de­fense by es­tab­lish­ing the run and win­ning the time-of-pos­ses­sion bat­tle.

Zac Jack­son



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