Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 10°C
# Steel curtain
Here's how the Steelers can win Super Bowl LI
Leaning on the patience of Le’Veon Bell will be key.

1. They have the best defence left

IT’S CERTAINLY NOT a great defence but, of the four remaining teams, nobody will strike fear into the heart of opposing quarterbacks quite like Pittsburgh.

Some of that is due to the emergence of safety Sean Davis and linebacker Bud Dupree, even if their tackling sometimes leaves a lot to be desired:

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However, the main reason for their resurgence — they lead the league in sacks since week 11 — is the continued excellence of 38-year-old James Harrison and defensive coordinator Keith Butler scheming to his side’s strengths, a surprisingly rare trait in the NFL.

The biggest change has been the use of blitzes. Through the first eight weeks of the season, the Steelers sent five or more players after the quarterback a league-low 25.7% of the time according to Pro Football Focus.

Since then, they’ve blitzed on 43% of their defensive downs and that’s something they’ll need to continue over the next two games.

2. Nobody runs like Le’Veon Bell

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Unusually for a running back, it is when he is at his slowest that Le’Veon Bell is at his most exciting. He has made doing nothing his trademark.

Well, it’s not quite doing nothing, but while Marshawn Lynch was known for his stiff-arm, Jamaal Charles for his pass-catching skills, Bell has made patience his most defining characteristic.

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If you look at the video above, and watch his performance against the Dolphins in the Wild Card Round, the Steelers’ back is crucial to their game plan with his 4.9 yards per attempt forcing teams to respect the run and pass on any given down.

Add to that the fact he’s averaging 146.5 yards over his last eight games and that Pittsburgh have only lost twice in the 16 games in which he’s managed 100 yards or more on the ground and you can see what makes him such a weapon.

3. Nobody does it better at this time of year

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Since 2014, the Steelers are a league-best 14-3 in December and January games, including the postseason.

They have the best win streak of all the remaining teams — and didn’t have to promise to run the table to achieve it — and go into Gillette Stadium this week well capable of dealing with whatever conditions the winter weather brings.

Mike Tomlin’s teams have reached two Super Bowls in the last four seasons they’ve had 11 or more wins. Experience counts in the NFL and between Tomlin, Harrioson and Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh has tonnes of it.

‘But what about my favourite team’ we hear you cry. Don’t worry, we’ll be outlining how all four Super Bowl contenders can lift the Vince Lombardi trophy over the coming days. 

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