Saints vs Steelers

Saints vs Steelers : There is plenty on the line for both the New Orleans Saints and the Pittsburgh Steelers when they meet in the Superdome this week.

The Steelers are trying to hold on to a half-game lead in the AFC North with two games to play, but it goes beyond that. If they falter in New Orleans, they could potentially be leapfrogged not only in the division race, but in the Wild Card race as well.

The Saints, meanwhile, can lock up home field advantage with a win Sunday. While they could still close it out in Week 17, getting it out of the way this week would allow them some flexibility to rest some players in the season’s final week.

What promises to be an intense matchup carries its fair share of interesting personnel battles on the field, too.

Really, this is all about New Orleans defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple against Pittsburgh wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and this has the feeling of the type of matchup that could play a central role in the outcome of the game.

The Steelers offense runs through its two star receivers, who have combined to catch 185 passes for 2,386 yards and 19 touchdowns in the first 14 games.

Brown has been playing at this level for some time now. He enters Sunday’s game with 90 catches for 1,112 yards and an NFL-best 13 receiving touchdowns, giving him six consecutive seasons with at least 90 catches and 1,100 receiving yards.

Smith-Schuster is in the midst of a breakout sophomore season. Selected in the second round out of USC last season, Smith-Schuster has caught 95 passes for 1,274 yards and six scores in 2018.

It is worth noting that Smith-Schuster is questionable with a groin injury, and missed practice Friday (Dec. 21).

“They’re explosive players,” said Saints coach Sean Payton. “They run well, they have great ball skills. It’s challenging with two, relative to how you cover them. I think they transition very well. They can get to top end speed, but they can also stop and that allows them to create the separation, and then you partner that with a quarterback like Ben (Roethlisberger) and that makes for a challenging day.

By Luke Johnson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune | Posted December 23, 2018 at 05:00 AM
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There is plenty on the line for both the New Orleans Saints and the Pittsburgh Steelers when they meet in the Superdome this week.

The Steelers are trying to hold on to a half-game lead in the AFC North with two games to play, but it goes beyond that. If they falter in New Orleans, they could potentially be leapfrogged not only in the division race, but in the Wild Card race as well.

The Saints, meanwhile, can lock up home field advantage with a win Sunday. While they could still close it out in Week 17, getting it out of the way this week would allow them some flexibility to rest some players in the season’s final week.

Really, this is all about New Orleans defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple against Pittsburgh wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and this has the feeling of the type of matchup that could play a central role in the outcome of the game.

The Steelers offense runs through its two star receivers, who have combined to catch 185 passes for 2,386 yards and 19 touchdowns in the first 14 games.

Brown has been playing at this level for some time now. He enters Sunday’s game with 90 catches for 1,112 yards and an NFL-best 13 receiving touchdowns, giving him six consecutive seasons with at least 90 catches and 1,100 receiving yards.

Smith-Schuster is in the midst of a breakout sophomore season. Selected in the second round out of USC last season, Smith-Schuster has caught 95 passes for 1,274 yards and six scores in 2018.

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