After handling the New York Jets with relative east last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers carry unwavering moment into week six. Facing the 1-4 Miami Dolphins, the Steelers look to dismantle yet another team with their high-powered offense.
Sunday’s meeting with the Dolphins will be the twenty-sixth between the two teams since 1971. The Steelers lead the series with thirteen wins and twelve losses. Their most recent meeting was a 34-28 loss in which the Steelers nearly tied the game with no time left on the clock when Antonio Brown stepped out of bounds before reaching the endzone after the ball had been pitched up the field by multiple players.
The Steelers’ enter week six heavily favored against the Dolphins. Avoiding the trap game against the Jets, they must be be cautious that it could happen this week. The Dolphins’ secondary may be putrid, but their defensive front is their strongest link on the team. The likes of Cameron Wake and Mario Williams will attempt to bring down Ben Roethlisberger early and often.
Roethlisberger could be without two of his receivers this weekend. Sammie Coates is questionable due to a fractured finger, while Markus Wheaton is once again sidelined due to a shoulder injury. Eli Rogers returns to the lineup after dealing with a toe injury. Chris Hubbard makes his second career start in place of Marcus Gilbert after successfully holding his own last week.
The Steelers’ defense has held opposing offenses to at least fourteen points in two straight weeks. Ryan Shazier is out due to a MCL sprain, but Vince Williams has filled his role very well. Williams has made two sacks this year after recording only half of one in his first three seasons. The secondary gave up 114 passing yards to Brandon Marshall last week, and will have their hands full with the trio of wide receivers the Dolphins possess.
Artie Burns vs. DeVante Parker
Steelers’ cornerback, Artie Burns, has made impressive strides in the first five weeks of the season. After barely appearing in the Steelers’ win over the Jets, Burns is expected to see plenty of time on the field after being promoted to a larger role in the secondary.
With the amount of receivers the Dolphins have on the field at one time, the Steelers are likely to use their nickel defense early and often. Burns will most likely be paired against DeVante Parker, Miami’s first-round draft pick from last season. Parker, who ran a 4.43 forty-yard dash at the combine, is known for his speed. Standing at 6’3″, he will be the biggest test of Burns’ career thus far.
The Steelers must limit Miami’s production through the air. Even with the return of Arian Foster, their ground game isn’t expected to produce many results. Their one win of the season came because they were able to position themselves in the red zone with a deep pass. Playing smart and reducing pass interference penalties will go a long way in Burns having an even larger role in the secondary as the year progresses.
Stephon Tuitt vs. Laremy Tunsil
A hamstring injury will bring Cameron Heyward‘s 85-game streak to an end on Sunday afternoon. In his place, Stephon Tuitt becomes the most tenured member of the Steelers’ defensive line. Tuitt has remained quiet for the majority of the season, and will have a chance to make his voice heard on Sunday. His opponent will be Laremy Tunsil, the Dolphins first-round pick from this year. His inexperience will be Tuitt’s gain, but Tunsil has performed admirably so far.
Tunsil has allowed one quarterback hit and no sacks in his time at left guard. Tuitt has the speed and power to beat out Tunsil on his way to the quarterback. Ryan Tannehill‘s success will be determined by how well his offensive line holds up. For the time being, Tuitt is the leader of a young group of defensive linemen, and he will be called upon to step up in Heyward’s absence.
Antonio Brown vs. Byron Maxwell
Byron Maxwell has struggled mightily in his first season as a Miami Dolphin. When he was traded to Miami from Philadelphia, he was expected to lead their secondary back to relevance. He struggled early, and was eventually benched in favor of rookie, Xavien Howard. Maxwell regained his starting role after Howard was injured in practice, and will be tasked to defend Antonio Brown this weekend.
Brown has been targeted more than ten times only once this season, and that was their only loss of the season against Philadelphia. In 2013, Brown caught five passes for 138 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins, and could have a similar experience on Sunday. Maxwell and the rest of the Dolphins’ secondary have struggled to stop opposing receivers, and Brown will give them one of their toughest challenges of the season.
Vince Williams records his third sack of the season, having at least one in the past three games.
Artie Burns plays in 50% of defensive snaps, and picks off his first pass of the season.
Ben Roethlisberger throws for 400 yards and three touchdowns, continuing his aerial assault on defenses.
The Steelers avoid the trap game and prevail, beating the Dolphins 34-20