Pan­thers (6-2) at Steel­ers (5-2-1)

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - LEADING OFF -

T at Cleve­land 21-21 (OT) L ...... KansasCity ...... 42-37 W ... at Tampa Bay ... 30-27 L ....... Bal­ti­more ....... 26-14 W ......... At­lanta ......... 41-17 W .... at Cincin­nati .... 28-21 Oct. 21 ............. Bye ............. W ...... Cleve­land ...... 33-18 W ..... at Bal­ti­more ..... 23-16 Nov. 8 ..... Carolina ..... 8:20 Nov. 18 ...... at Jax ...... 8:20 Nov. 25 ... at Den­ver ... 4:25 Dec.2 ...L.A.Charg­ers ...1 Dec. 9 ... at Oak­land ... 8:20 Dec. 16 New Eng­land 4:25 Dec. 23 at New Orlns 4:25 Dec. 30 ...... Cincin­nati ...... 1

Thurs­day, 8:20 p.m. ET, Heinz Field, Pitts­burgh

TV: Fox, NFL Net­work

Danny Sheri­dan’s line: by 5

Pan­thers’ keys to vic­tory: The Pan­thers must find a way to slow down the Steel­ers. RB James Con­ner has been the best run­ning back in the AFC over the last month and has be­come the fo­cus of the Steel­ers offense. The Pan­thers need to sus­tain drives and trust in QB Cam New­ton and RB Chris­tian McCaf­frey to take ad­van­tage of an im­prov­ing but in­con­sis­tent Steel­ers de­fense.

Steel­ers’ keys to vic­tory: Pitts­burgh is hit­ting its stride at ex­actly the right time. The Steel­ers’ goal against the Pan­thers is to keep do­ing what they have been do­ing dur­ing their four-game win­ning streak. That means run­ning the ball with RB James Con­ner and stop­ping op­po­nents’ rush­ing at­tacks. The Pan­thers have mul­ti­ple weapons who can beat you on the ground, so the Steel­ers might have their tough­est de­fen­sive test to date, es­pe­cially on a short week of prac­tice.

Matchup to watch: Pan­thers QB Cam New­ton vs. Steel­ers QB Ben Roeth­lis­berger. Even though this game will show­case two of the best quar­ter­backs in the NFL, they still don’t get the at­ten­tion they de­serve. Both play­ers el­e­vate the play of their team­mates and are in­cred­i­ble on-field lead­ers. Un­der the bright lights of prime-time foot­ball, both will shine and it will come down to which one makes the big plays.

Who wins? The Steel­ers have so much mo­men­tum, it is hard to see them los­ing at home in a na­tion­ally tele­vised night game. Pitts­burgh’s offense is elite, but it is the im­prove­ment on de­fense that will make the differ­ence.

Steel­ers, 35-24 Steel­ers

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