Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. New Orleans Saints: Top Game Match-ups


Sunday at Heinz Field, the Pittsburgh Steelers play host to the New Orleans Saints amid a number of interesting story-lines.

Both Steelers wide receiver Lance Moore and Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis face off against their former teammates. Both teams are also fighting for their playoff lives in their respective divisions.

But the top two match-ups that matter the most are Le’Veon Bell versus the Saints’ 23rd ranked rushing defense and the Steelers’ pass rush against Drew Brees.

Le’Veon Bell vs Saints Defense

After allowing Justin Forsett to run all over them on Monday night, the Saints take on an even better running back in Le’Veon Bell. Bell is coming off a much needed bye week rest after his 204-yard game romp in Tennessee.

The Saints defense has traded struggles with the passing and running game all season. The timing and setting in cold windy Heinz Field is ripe for another Bell explosion.

Pittsburgh’s offense won’t be forced to rely solely on Bell. The Saints secondary allowed Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to complete 9 of 13 third down conversion passes, and had no answers for the Smiths — Torrey Smith and Steve Smith, Sr.

Due to multiple injuries, the Saints are now starting their third string strong safety, Pierre Warren. The 6’2 ex-Viking corner from Jacksonville State will get the second start of his career this week. Warren and starting corner Patrick Robinson have quickly gone from the bench to taking on one of the league’s best offenses in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Robinson and nickel corner Corey White could not match up with the Ravens and it won’t get any easier in Pittsburgh.

Bell could be the biggest beneficiary because while the Saints focus on the big play potential of Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and possibly Lance Moore, Bell can eat up precious time and yards versus a weak run defense. And the less time Drew Brees has the better the Steelers will be in the next top match-up.

Steelers Pass Rush vs. Drew Brees  

Ever since he put on a Saints uniform, Drew Brees has been the Saints’ top commander. If Brees goes down, the Saints typically follow suit. It was what the Ravens game-planned for and executed in their win last Monday.

Given the Ravens were starting three new players in their secondary, strong safety Will Hill and cornerbacks Anthony Levine and Danny Gorrer, the Ravens used their strength, the pass rush and a time-stealing running game on offense, to beat Brees.

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Brees still lit them up for 420-yards and three touchdowns, with receivers Kenny Stills (98-yards) and Marques Colston (82-yards) leading the way. However, Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs protected their shaky secondary from giving up too many big plays. The Steelers will need to use this blue print to prevent another loss to a below .500 team.

The Steelers’ pass rush has been on the road to improvement. They have nine sacks, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles in their last four games. Jason Worilds and James Harrison will be needed to push the Saints’ struggling offensive line back into Brees limiting his visibility downfield.

Colston and tight end Jimmy Graham are the Saints’ top two match-up advantages going against shorter corners, Brice McCain and William Gay. The return of 6’2 Ike Taylor would be a big help but the Steelers may choose to ease him back into the line-up.


The Steelers’ offense is playing much better than the Saints’ defense is right now. I don’t totally trust the Steelers’ pass rush against Drew Brees, but with this game being in Heinz Field, I will go with the home team. Bell steps up big again on Sunday.