Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Cowboys' next opponent. This week, that opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Opponent: If you want to win an easy bet with your friends, wager some money that the telecast of Sunday's game against the Steelers will make a nauseating number of mentions of their Super Bowl history. They've met three times, but that doesn't much matter since the loser of this week's game isn't going to have a very good chance of making the playoffs. But enjoy the grainy footage of Staubach because you know you're gonna see it.
The Line: Pick 'em
Last Game: The Steelers got run out of their own stadium by the Chargers in an embarrassing 34-24 loss. San Diego's season has been so good that Norv Turner acknowledged he's getting fired in the victorious press conference. And the Steelers were down 27-3 at one point, which makes you wonder if there's enough gas in the tank.
The Coach: We know that Mike Tomlin can coach and we know he can win with this group of players. The question will be whether he keeps winning as this aging group turns over and the verdict is a long way off at present.
The Offense: Ben Roethlisberger returned from his latest injury last Sunday, but the lopsided loss meant no paeans to his fortitude when the final whistle blew. There haven't been any blowups between Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, something many people predicted, but there also haven't been many of the big plays that were formerly a staple of the Pittsburgh offense. It's still worked, as long as Roethlisberger is healthy. Their offensive line is the biggest obstacle to things remaining that way.
The Defense: Injuries have been an issue with almost everyone on the defense and cornerback Ike Taylor and linebacker LaMarr Woodley are currently well less than 100 percent. If they play, they'll join a lineup that's been banged up everywhere and showing its age at several key spots. They've still played well, although there are more leaks than in past years.
Key Matchup: DeMarcus Ware/Anthony Spencer vs. Max Starks/Kelvin Beachum - Roethlisberger is going to take hits, the issue is getting to him before he can get rid of the ball. The matchups on the edges look very good for the Cowboys, especially if they can force the Steelers to use more players in protection and limit the players the defense needs to cover downfield.