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Break it Down: Bears vs. Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into the 2009 season under-hyped, under-appreciated, and under the radar of just about everybody. Pick up any preview magazine from last year, or this year even, and they will predict possible Super Bowl winners like Dallas, New England, Indianapolis, hell, some even picked the New York Jets. But that's just fine with the Steelers, who just keep finding a way to win, celebrating a second Super Bowl victory in under 4 years.

There isn't much change from last year's roster, with the Steelers only losing two starters from their Super bowl-winning squad. Ane even then their replacements, linebacker Lawrence Timmons and cornerback William Gay, were already on the verge of taking over more minutes this season. Quiet yet intense head coach Mike Timlin preaches tough defense, which will be without All-Pro saftey Troy Polamalu (who's out for several weeks due to the "Madden Curse"). The Steelers are frightening at the linebacker spot, with outside backers Lamar Woodley and James Harrison combining for over27 sacks between them last season, while inside backer James Farrior only led the team with 133 tackles. These guys are very dangerous and can move very well. The secondary features big, physical db's who don't get many interceptions, but are big enough to break up plays and tackle very well.

If the Bears have a chance its best to jump on the secondary quick, as they seem to get stronger and more physical as the game goes. With Polamalu out the threat of an interception is out, so Cutler should hit them deep. Forget about last week....completely. They can't cover tight end Greg Olsen with a linebacker, although they will try at first which may help one of the Bears over-looked wide outs go for a big game. Be warned, Olsen's ribs are banged up. And any sort of running game developed by the Bears with Forte would be key. The Steelers like to dominate the run game, so if Forte can have a break out performance it could be a good day for the Bears.

Offensively, the Steelers are not the smash-mouth running team they used to be. Since Jerome Bettis left after the 2007 Super Bowl, the focus has been more on the passing game than the run. Hines Ward and Santinio Holmes had another very quiet year between them, racking up over 1900 yards and 12 td's. The Steelrs also ceature 3 good running backs, with the top two backs, Willie parker and rashard Mendenhall, both struggling last week. They are led at quarterback by big Ben Roethlisberger, who's as big and physical as a linebacker with the arm of Dan Marino. Much like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, Roethlisberger is a winner. Hell, he just beat Shaq a month ago!

In order to stop Roethliberger the Bears need to contain Ward and Holmes to a unproductive Sunday, while shutting down the run game completely. The pass rush needs to get to Roethlisberger, who routinely holds the ball longer than any other quarterback looking for the smallest of openings. Put him on the ground and you've got nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately the Bears defense is still in flux.. The secondary is under-going a facelift with two new starters in saftey Daniel Manning and cornerback Zach Bowman, on the bench and to nickle situations go Nathan Vasher and kevin Payne. Hunter Hillenmeyer returns to the starting line-up after Brian Urlacher's season-ending injuy. "Triple H" as he is called by teammates has starting everygame since 2004 until this season, and while there is a drop off (it is Urlacher for christ's sake) Hunter is a solid replacement. If the Bears get consistant good play from their new secondary and linebackers (Tinoisama was also banged up last week) and get Roethlisberger on the ground and out of the air Lovie Smith will be able to celebrate another home season-opening victory.

Mike Kincaide


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