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The Pittsburgh Steelers return home to Heinz Field on Monday night to take on the Chicago Bears in their first of two Monday Night Football appearances in 2021. The Steelers are coming off a critical 15-10 road victory against the Cleveland Browns and the Bears enter this contest after losing at home to the San Francisco 49ers. The Steelers now sit at 4-3 as the Bears hold a 2-5 record. The Steelers are relatively healthy and seem to be starting to click at the right time and are looking to ride the momentum through Week 9. Meanwhile, the Bears have had trouble getting the offense going under rookie quarterback Justin Fields and are desperate for a big win in primetime.
Let’s take a look at some things we can look forward to.
MATCHUPS AT A GLANCE
Offense: What a difference 3 games makes. After a hot start in Week 1, the Steelers had trouble getting an effective offensive attack going in weeks 2, 3, and 4. In that span, the offense put up a total of 809 passing yards with 146 rushing yards. The Steelers’ best rushing game came against the Green Bay Packers with 62 yards on the ground. However, the next 3 games that followed featured a total of 725 passing yards and 381 rushing yards. In total, there was a difference of over 150 yards in total offense between those 2 stretches. A big part of the recent success has been primarily due to Najee Harris taking a lot of pressure off Ben Roethlisberger. In the 3 losses, Harris only ran the ball a total of 39 times for 140 yards and averaged 3.59 yards per carry. In the last 3 wins, Harris ran the ball a total of 73 times for 294 yards and averaged 4.03 yards per carry. The trend is simple; feed Harris. Between Harris’ incredible skillset and the Steelers ’offensive line starting to galvanize, the formula to their last 3 victories has been a successful run game. They also have a favorable matchup this week against a Bears’ rush defense who has allowed an average of 125 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses and is one of six teams who have allowed a total of 1,000 yards on the ground this season.
Defense: The Steelers’ defense has a very favorable matchup as well this week. The Bears’ offense is ranked dead-last in total yards and is ranked second-to-last in points scored with an average of 15.9 points per game. After a successful career at Ohio State University, Fields has had a lot of trouble adapting to NFL defenses. So far in the season, Fields has thrown 7 interceptions with only 3 touchdowns. However, rookie running back Khalil Herbert has surprised a lot of coaches and has been a bright spot in an otherwise mundane offense. In the month of October, Herbert posted 351 total yards on the ground on 81 attempts, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Therefore on defense, the game plan is to shut down Herbert and the run and force Fields to win the game on his own. The Bears have a -3 turnover differential, so the Steelers’ defense will have plenty of splash play opportunities. Look for T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward to apply constant pressure on Fields, while Minkah Fitzpatrick plays center field and gets his first interception of the season.
The Steelers are currently 6.5-point favorites with a point total at 39 points. I think this will be a low scoring game, but not that low. I see the Steelers securing their fourth straight victory on Monday Night Football. Prediction, 27-19, Steelers.
There are a lot of trends going into this game. First is head coach Mike Tomlin’s record versus the Bears. Although coach Tomlin has had success against the majority of the NFL, he has never beaten the Bears. To be more specific, his is 0-3 against them. On the other hand, the Steelers are donning their all-black Color Rush uniforms of which they are 6-1 while wearing them. In addition, on Monday Night Football the Steelers hold a 4th-best record of 52-31-1 in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Bears hold a 36-41 all-time Monday Night Football record. Something has to give this week, and I think Tomlin picks up his first win against the Bears.
What are you watching for on Monday night? What do you think the final outcome will be? Let us know in the comments below!