Redskins Vs Steelers Wk 1: Early Look – Key Matchups
By Taylor Cain
The Washington Redskins start the season off in week one with a huge game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here is an early look at some of the key matchups the Skins must tackle in this contest.
The first game of the season is always the most anticipated, but Washington’s season opener has its stakes raised as they host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. It’s still a little ways off but it’s never too early to start looking at things the Redskins can do to win this big game.
Facing the team in the Steelers who earned a 10-6 record an AFC Wild Card victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. With Washington being tested this early, who are some key players and what are some key matchups the Redskins need to win to end week 1 with a Redskins victory?
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Kirk Cousins vs Steelers secondary:
Kirk Cousins could shine early in week 1 against a defense that allowed 272 passing yards per game (3rd most in the NFL). With weapons like Jordan Reed, Desean Jackson, and Matt Jones, Cousins could look to have a blockbuster game.
The Steelers secondary will feature two rookies in cornerback Artie Burns and safety Sean Davis. They are both talented but the depth and experience of the Redskins receiving group will give Kirk Cousins a huge advantage passing the football on the Steelers DB’s.
Josh Norman vs Antonio Brown
Pittsburgh biggest threat comes in the form of wide receiver, Antonio Brown. Brown finished the 2015 season recording 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns with 136 receptions. In one of Brown’s best games of the season against the Oakland Raiders, he completed 17 receptions for 284 yards.
Although Brown is known for being “superhuman”, Redskins CB Josh Norman is known to shut down top receivers. With Norman’s length and agility vs. Brown’s footwork along with Ben Roethlisberger’s ball placement, this matchup is made to be under the Monday Night lights.
Redskins D-Line vs. Le’Veon Bell/DeAngelo Williams:
Rush defense will come as a priority heading into week 1. Le’Veon Bell remains questionable for the opener after suffering an ACL tear in November. Bell says he’ll be ready for training camp. But if he’s not ready the Steelers can rely on DeAngelo Williams, who became a suitable replacement, rushing for 900+ yards and 11 touchdowns.
Washington must be prepared for either running back. In 2015, the Redskins rush defense ranked 26th in the league. That won’t cut it in this matchup. The versatility of the Skins D-line up front needs to keep those backs from running wild.
Redskins O-line/Matt Jones vs Steelers front seven
Washington faces a tough challenge with Pittsburgh’s front seven with big names like James Harrison, Bud Depree, and Cameron Heyward. This veteran defensive line only allowed 6 rushing touchdowns (second fewest in the NFL).
When it comes to the rush offense in Washington, RBs recorded 3.7 yards per rush, which has promise to improve with Matt Jones as the starter. In 2015, Jones generated 3 touchdowns and 490 yards as a backup to the struggling Alfred Morris.
Next: Five Reasons Redskins Defense will Improve in 2016
If the Redskins can win this opening game against quality opponent, it will jumpstart their goal of returning to the playoffs for a second consecutive season.