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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Who I like, San Francisco version

Who will play and who won't?

That is always a key heading into any game. And for the Steelers and 49ers, it's critical.

Being here in Pittsburgh, we all know about the question marks for the Steelers.

Obviously, James Harrison is out, suspended by the NFL for this game. But quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, safety Troy Polamalu and center Maurkice Pouncey are huge question marks for the Steelers as well.

For San Francisco, running back Frank Gore, linebacker Patrick Willis and left tackle Joe Staley are hurting.

That's a lot of star power.

Polamalu, Gore and Willis, in my opinion, are the three biggest factors there.

We all know the Steelers' struggles over the past few seasons without Polamalu. They are a Super Bowl team with him, a sub-.500 team without.

On the other hand, they proved last season they could win without Roethlisberger in the lineup – at least in the short term. And Doug Legursky is a capable replacement for Pouncey, even if he's not the Pro Bowl player Pouncey is.

Gore is San Francisco's entire offense. He's dealt with ankle and knee injuries over the past six weeks and without his running, the 49ers' offense relies solely on Alex Smith. That could be difficult without Staley at left tackle.

Gore should play, but he managed just 10 carries last week in a loss at Arizona.

And Willis is the heart and soul of San Francisco's defense. While Ray Lewis may get the publicity, it's Willis who is the best inside linebacker in football.

He's a big reason why the 49ers are allowing 3.2 yards per carry and haven't given up a rushing touchdown this season.

Regardless of who plays and who doesn't, the Steelers are the better team.

Take Pittsburgh, 17-16

© Update: Polamalu practiced today and is probable to play.

Roethlisberger was again limited and will be a game-time decision.

Pouncey is out.


Anonymous said...

I think we should sit everyone who is banged up. Even if we run the table we will likely still be the 5th seed. I don't see Baltimore losing to S.D., Cinci, or the Cleve Browns. Hence, we could be tied for the best record in the AFC and still go to Denver without a bye, as the 5th seed. Why are we killing ourselves when that is the likely outcome and our fate is not in our hands. I would rather be healthy for the playoffs and hope that the cards unfold so that Baltimore has to play the Cheaters and one of the two is eliminated.
At least we will have a healthy Big Ben/Pouncey/Troy etc for when we need them.
Mrs. Isaac Redman.

Tim said...

I don't know, I think Roethlisberger is a bigger factor than the other three. Polamalu, Gore, and Willis all have capable replacements. Batch and Dixon may or may not be capable this year (I guess we'll see), but there is an enormous dropoff there coming from Ben, and at the quarterback position on a team relying on the pass with a banged up OL. Even though Willis is the best ILB in football, his backup Grant is playing lights out and it's a far less important position. Meanwhile, Mundy should be able to hold down the fort at safety, even though he's obviously no Polamalu, and as great as Frank Gore is, Kendall Hunter might scare me even more for us. I think we have more trouble with the quicker guys, which is why it always seems like Bernard Scott does more damage in half the carries compared to Cedric Benson. Hunter reminds me a bit of Amos Zereoue.

This really is a bad time for Harrison to sit, because if Staley is out he could probably rack up 5 sacks against this Boone character. I'm hoping Worilds gets at least one.

I wonder who we'll see going against Vernon Davis for most of the night. Especially without Troy. Maybe a Mundy/Allen combo like they did against Gronkowski.

ibygeorge said...

Its the part of the season where the playoffs are looming. If the Ravens lose, Ben plays, otherwise the risk is too big for reinjuring the ankle, Tomlin should pull him out early.
Woodley's hamstring recovery is big. He and Harrison need to be healthy for the playoffs.
How big is the health of the team now?

Moonjockey said...

I know Batch looked pretty rusty in the couple series he was in there last week.

But is noone discounting for the fact that Batch in my memory is historically a much better quarterback with preparation that he is just jumping into a game?

Obviously I hope Ben's able to go. But I think with over a week of prep, Batch can do much much better.

Anyone else agree?

Anonymous said...

If Ben is out, Batch obviously gives the Steelers a better chance to win. Dixon is awful, but should be used for some trick plays or something. Batch gives us a decent chance to win if the OL holds its own and he doesn't throw a killer pick.

I worry about the offensive line being pushed around (Pouncey out, etc.) and the defense wearing down as the game goes on.

Regardless of win or loss, I think this is a good test for the team. In September, the Steelers went on the road against two playoff-caliber, physical teams (Ravens, Texans) and got physically manhandled for long stretches (the Texans game was only "close" because they kept shooting themselves in the foot; if any 17-10 game was a blowout, that was it). That seems like a long time ago, but it could tell us alot about the Steelers chances on the road in the playoffs if they don't win the division.

(Or, it could tell us nothing, just one shorthanded game for us.)

17-14 somebody, in overtime.

Dale Lolley said...

Kendall Hunter is not a capable replacement for Gore. Not even close.

Erin said...

@Anonymous: You really can't see Baltimore losing to the Chargers or Bengals? The Chargers tend to play their best football in December and depending on what the chances are for the Bengals to get that 6th seed, they could very well be hungrier than Baltimore to win in that last game of the regular season. So, no the likely outcome does NOT automatically mean we're going to get that 5th seed.

KT said...

Thanks for adding perspective to the injury situation. It seems like San Fran is almost in the same kind of dire straights as the Steelers are.

marc said...

this game is too tough to call with all the injuries. whichever backups play better will most likely win. special teams may be big as well.

i don't think much of batch at this point in his career. it is more likely he will get hurt in this game than throw a TD pass. i expect we will see dixon at some point.

Anonymous said...

Not worried about that inconsistent Niner offense as much as I worry about their defense forcing turnover after turnover. Could be one of those classic all-defense games. In games like these, it is important to have a solid kicker. I say Suisham misses a key fg, but makes enough throughout the game for us to win, I'll take Steelers 13-7.

Patrick said...

Batch is Glassjoe from the Mike Tyson Punchout game. He goes down too easy.

If he starts, he'll almost definitely get hurt.

But in the end, Ben is going to play. Did anyone think he wasn't going to play this one up as much as possible?

John Kang said...

If the Ravens win this week, I hope we rest Ben, Troy and maybe even Woodley.

Anonymous said...

49er fan here! Willis can't be replaced but Grant is playing great. Gore is playing FOR SURE. Staley is a toss-up, but don't underestimate Boone.

49ers win 13-6

GO NINERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Golden Mike Tomczak said...

I like the 49er homer giving the Steelers a gracious 6 points. Ha!

I think the outcome of the Baltimore/San Diego game will have a big impact on who suits up to go Monday. If the Ravens win, whats the point of playing Anybody who is banged up.

Even Charlie the Elder can fare better than one score, and if Ben plays, we could score on the first drive.

With Ben, Steelers 24 San Fran 10
Without Ben, Steelers 17 San Fran 13

Anonymous said...

to be fair with the homer, that's a likely score if Batch plays

adamg said...

Carolina defeated Houston. If SD can defeat Balt and the Steelers win out, they will be the #1 seed.

Anonymous said...

That is a big IF. I think the only time the Ravens lose against sub par teams is the week after they play us. Predicted score Baltimore 110 San Diego -50 Rivers gets eaten and defecated by Ray Ray. Steelers should rest Ben and anyone else and prepare to play in Denver or Oakland.
Heck the bye is not all its cracked up to be given the recent Super Bowl winners.

Mrs. Isaac Redman

adamg said...

Dale, know it's been an open secret that the Harbaughs spent time with each other assessing the Steelers. No one has a problem with this. Just out of curiousity if Tomlin has said at his press conf that he'd spent some of the extra time after the Thurs night game talking to Norv Turner about the best way to beat Balt, the league would be as sanguine about it as it is with the Harbaughs? Of course, looking at the current score, maybe he did. :)

Henry said...

Wow Flacco.

2 underneath picks to fat guys on back to back drives?

Will someone explain to me how this chode beat us twice?

marc said...

#7 will definitely play now.

btw, am i reading the schedule right. do the steelers have MNF then play the next saturday. what a bunch of B.S.

Patrick said...

i think all the games are on saturday, sunday is christmas


adamg said...

marc, all teams except the normal SNF and MNF games are playing Sat because xmas falls on Sunday.

Personally, I do think it's poor scheduling to have TNF, then MNF where one team has to fly coast-to-coast. I'm kind of surprised NFLPA didn't negotiate scheduling with mandatory minimum time off between games.

marc said...

well, that explains it. thanks.

adamg said...

Steelers control their own destiny now. Can't ask for anything more than that.

Anonymous said...


Marc - u still think Ben should not play you sissy?

Robert K said...

Well I think Ben has to play now...we need that playoff homegame. Our offense is so terrible on the road this season.

joe said...

looks like 7 is starting, if he can't move to protect himself though, i'd get him out so the injury doesn't become season ending.

if san diego does fire norv, i hope he is open to the o-coordinator position here

marc said...

i agree. a must win game. see my comment above if you didn't read it yet.

i would also play #7, assuming he is somewhat mobile, and see what happens. if he's getting killed because he can't escape the rush, well then what would you do?

sissy? really?

Anonymous said...

That Anonymous is giving us other Anonymouses a bad name.

Dale Lolley said...

Ben was moving around fine on the plane Sunday. Perhaps he was sandbagging a bit

Nate said...

Ben, sandbagging? Surely you jest!

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