Pittsburgh Steelers (10-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (10-3)
When: 8:30 PM | Where; Candlestick Park
Odds: minus-3 San Francisco
Roethlisberger active, will start
The AFC No. 1 seed is on the line and QB Ben Roethlisberger, as expected, will play and start tonight vs the San Francisco 49ers. Roethlisberger can not move around well and is hobbled.
This is the kind of moment where Ben surprisingly has a big game, but by how much he’s struggling to put pressure on his left foot, it’s going to be an interesting tonight.
The Steelers are going to have to put a strong emphasis on a quick short passing game, possibly in the shotgun or pistol formation and let the likes of Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown make explosive plays after the catch.
The biggest struggle for Roethlisberger won’t only be moving around but planting properly on deep balls as we saw with his interception against Cleveland.
If that’s the case, it will be a disappointment for the Steelers. The 49ers are 19th in the NFL against the pass and give up big plays through the air, giving up 11 passes of 40 yards or more, the 5th worst mark in the NFL.
— This is a prime situation where a big game from Rashard Mendenhall is needed but there isn’t a better run stopping team than the 49ers right now who are No. 1 against the run, giving up just 70.5 rushing yards per game.
— Splash plays on defense will likely dictate tonight’s winner. This is a 49ers team that doesn’t turn the ball over, leading the league with a +21 turnover differential. Pittsburgh has the No. 1 ranked defense and are No. 1 against the pass, giving up 179.1 passing yards per game. Since coming out of their bye, the Steelers have been a much more opportunitistic defense like we’ve seen in previous years, forcing that key turnover that changes a game
Tonight the defense is going to have to be dominant as all signs to a low scoring game.
— Star linebacker Patrick Willis is inactive and that’s a huge blow for the 49ers. WR Braylon Edwards is also inactive
— Two key players to watch tonight is outside linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds. If Woodley can stay healthy, he could have a huge game against an 49ers o-line that is struggling against the pass rush.
INACTIVES: Maurkice Pouncey, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Carter, Curtis Brown, Woods, Meridith….James Harrison (suspension)
LINEUP NEWS: QB’s Ben Roethlisberger, Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon are all active……Starting O-line from Left to Right (Starks – Essex – Legursky – Foster – Gilbert)…..LaMarr Woodley starts at LOLB and is appearing in just his second game since Oct. 30……Jason Worilds gets the start at ROLB…..Ziggy Hood and Troy Polamalu are both active and will start…..