Two of the most storied franchises in NFL history face off in a pivotal week 3 game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a hole. Not only have they started off the 2019 season with an 0-2 start, they must charter the rest of the way without their future-Hall-of-Fame signal-caller, Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben suffered a season-ending elbow injury in week 2 versus the Seattle Seahawks. With that, second-year man, Mason Rudolph, will be under center for the Black and Gold come Sunday. After a solid 12/19 passing, 112 yards and 2 TD in second-half relief of Roethlisberger, the Steelers are excited to see what Rudolph can do with the reins.
Not only are the Steelers backing the kid, they’ve sent for reinforcements to continue a hopeful playoff push. In a very un-Steelers’ like move, Pittsburgh traded a 2020 first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for 2018 11th overall pick, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. This is a bold, but prudent move, triggered to shore up a young secondary.
All this after trading up 10 spots in the 2019 draft to select linebacker Devin Bush with the 10th overall pick.
No, these are not your father’s — or even your big brother’s — Steelers, ladies and gentlemen.
The San Francisco 49ers, on the other hand, are rolling. They’ve come blazing out the gate with a 2-0 record and have been tagged with 6.5 points as favorites in this interconference match-up of league royalty.
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo boasts a 104.9 QB rating, while being surrounded by weapons in TE George Kittle, RBs Matt Brieda & Raheem Mostert and WRs Deebo Samuel & Marquise Goodwin.
With a defense led by a stout front seven that includes DeForest Buckner, Aric Armstead, Dee Ford and rookie EDGE Nick Bosa, the Niners can get after the QB. On the backend, Richard Sherman has looked like his old self now that he’s healthy.
There are many unknowns in this contest. What we do know is that this could be a crossroads for both teams. Fall to 0-3 and the Steelers can start figuring out what to do after the first round of next year’s draft. Lose a home game to a QB in his first start for an 0-2 team San Fran may start questioning its place among NFL contenders.