The best part of January: playoff football.
Wild Card weekend is here.
In Sunday afternoon’s first Wild Card match-up, the No. 3 Pittsburgh Steelers play host to the No. 6 Miami Dolphins.
How Miami can win…
Miami has won three out of its last four games of the regular season, posting a 10-6 season in Adam Gase’s first year at the helm. But lets not forget that Miami’s last playoff win came after the 2000 season: a 23-17 overtime win over Indianapolis. That was back when Jay Fiedler was under center for Miami. Much like Houston and Oakland, Miami will be starting a backup quarterback, with 32-year old veteran Matt Moore filling in for injured starter Ryan Tannehill. Moore has gone 2-1 in three starts this season (63.2%, 721 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT, 105.6 QB rating), but I think we all know the key for Miami will be whether or not they can contain Pittsburgh’s three offensive weapons in QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh’s offense has put up nearly 25 points per game this season, and ranks seventh in offensive yardage. Forcing a few turnovers will be key for Gase’s defense today.
How Pittsburgh can win…
This may sound hard to believe, but today’s match-up marks the first time Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown will share a field in the postseason. Bell missed both of last year’s playoff games, Brown missed the Broncos’ Divisional round, and then Bell also missed the 2014 Wild Card game against Baltimore due to a hyperextended knee. It’s crazy to say, but the Killer B’s will finally hit the field together against Miami. One of Pittsburgh’s five losses this season came against this Miami team earlier this season (a 30-15 Week 6 loss). Roethlisberger tossed for 189 yards, 1 TD and a pair of interceptions in that game, while Bell ran for just 53 yards on 10 carries (six catches for 55 yards) and Brown caught four passes for 39 yards. A much better day from the trio, and I’m not sure Miami stands a chance at Heinz Field.
Our Pick: Steelers, 34-24.
Since the 1990 season, Miami is just 1-7 in road playoff games. And I expect that trend to continue today. Even if they limit one of the Killer B’s, the Phins will still struggle with the other two. And I can’t see Moore’s offensive attack being explosive enough to keep up in this one.
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