The Dallas Cowboys’ playoff hopes keep on diminishing. After another poor performance in week 8 against the Eagles, the Cowboys look to move past it. However, they will face the only undefeated team left in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s going to be a difficult feat for the Cowboys to beat the Steelers. Nonetheless, in this NFL season, anything can happen, so the Cowboys stay optimistic heading into this matchup. Here are three keys to the game for the Dallas Cowboys against the Steelers in week 9.
Home Sweet Home
After two straight games on the road, the Cowboys will head home to take on the Steelers.
The Steelers are undoubtedly the better team as their record speaks for itself (7-0). However, the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger don’t play as efficiently on the road as they do at home. This season, Roethlisberger has a worse passer rating, more interceptions and a worse completion percentage on the road.
Getting Roethlisberger rattled is key in this game. This falls on the fans as they must be as loud as they can. Although limited fans will be present, the Cowboys fanbase needs to bring their A-game.
As for the Cowboys, they play at the top of their game at home. This season, they are 2-2 at home while 0-4 on the road. Additionally, they have not finished under .500 at home since 2017 when they went 3-5 at home.
Nothing is going to be easy for the Cowboys in this game. However, their home-field advantage should help them at least stay in the game.
The Offensive Line Has to Step Up
The Cowboys’ offensive line has been horrendous all season long. They have allowed 24 sacks this season (third-most in the NFL). After allowing four sacks to the Eagles a week ago, it doesn’t get much easier against the Steelers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have pressured opposing quarterbacks 109 times this season (most in the NFL). On the other side, the Cowboys offensive line has allowed 127 quarterback pressures this season (most in the NFL).
This matchup presents another tough day for the Cowboys offensive line that has to deal with T.J. Watt and company. Watt ranks fourth in sacks this season (6.5) and his teammates Bud Dupree and Stephon Tuitt rank seventh with six sacks.
Coming into week 9, the Steelers rank first in sacks (30) and sacks to opposing quarterbacks per game (4.3).
Nonetheless, the one positive for the Cowboys is that the Steelers have a dropoff from sacks at home to on the road. At home, the Steelers sack opposing quarterbacks 5.2 times per game while that number drops to just 3.0 on the road.
The Cowboys offensive line not only has to step up but so does Dallas’s quarterback.
Hold Pittsburgh to 20 Points
Holding the Steelers to just 20 points?!?!
It’s not going to be easy for the Cowboys defense, but they need to do it if they want any chance at this game.
Although the Cowboys have allowed the most points per game this season (33.3), they have been much improved. After giving up 34+ points in five straight games from week 2 to week 6, the Cowboys defense hasn’t allowed that mark in two games since.
In the past two games, they have allowed 25 points to Washington and then 23 points to the Eagles. Even though they have played better as of late, they face one of the best offensives in the league in week 9.
The Steelers currently rank fifth in points per game (30.3) and have scored 25+ points in every game this season.
The biggest obstacle for the Cowboys defense is covering the Steelers’ wide receiving corps. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool have caused problems for defenses all year. Their rookie receiver, Claypool, leads the team in receiving yards (375). Locking up these receivers is no easy thing especially with Eric Ebron in the mix as well.
As a result, the Cowboys defense has to perform almost perfectly for them to even have a chance at this game. Even if the Cowboys hold the Steelers to less than 20 points, the Cowboys might still not win.
Featured Image Courtesy of Steelers Depot