USA TODAY Sports

Deuce identifies important match-ups ahead of Saints-Steelers game

December 19, 2018 - 11:34 am

By: Jordan Fiegel

WWL Saints color analyst Deuce McAllister said his head hurt after the narrow 12-9 win over the Carolina Panthers, and the Monday night game means there’s a shorter week to get ready for the next opponent. 

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming to town with an 8-5-1 record.  They’re currently first in the AFC North, but they’re still fighting to clinch a playoff spot.  The Saints, meanwhile, need to win one of their last two games to clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

McAllister pointed to a number of intriguing match-ups.

“First, their receivers against our secondary.  How will the Saints match Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster?”  Brown and Smith-Schuster have combined for 185 receptions and 2,386 yards with 19 touchdowns.  The Saints secondary has improved, but they’re still ranked 28th in the NFL. 

It’s not just Pittsburgh’s receivers, however.  “Really, their offense against our defense in general,” said McAllister.  “[Running back] James Conner has been banged up, so do they still have offensive balance?”

In 12 games, Conner has racked up 909 yards and 12 touchdowns on 201 carries while adding another 467 yards on 52 receptions.  While he has been out with injuries, Jaylen Samuels has stepped up, gaining 264 yards on 39 touches.

Additionally, the Saints all-time leading rusher wonders how successful the Saints will be rushing the passer.

“Can they get any pressure on Ben Roethlisberger?  Pittsburgh’s offensive line has been really, really good.”

The Steelers offensive line has been effective, allowing only 20 sacks all season.  On the flip side, the Saints offensive line has been even better, allowing only 16 sacks, tied for the fewest in the league.  New Orleans has been hit with injuries, though.

“If the Saints don’t get any of their injured offensive linemen back, that’s where they’ll have a limited game plan,” said Deuce.  “You’re going to be asking guys to play positions they normally would not play.  The Saints have to be hoping at least some of those guys will return.  If not, it’s going to be interesting to see how Drew [Brees] and Sean Payton try to attack that Steelers defense.”

And McAllister did identify one area where the Saints could have a clear advantage.

“Special teams has probably hurt them the most of anything, so I don’t know if the Steelers have a lot confidence in their kicker right now.”

Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh’s kicker, is just 11-18 (61.1%) on field goals and 41-46 (89.1%) on extra points.  Wil Lutz, on the other hand, is completing 96.4% of his field goals and 97.9% of his extra points.

The Saints play the Steelers Sunday afternoon at 3:25pm CT in New Orleans.

*Get ready for SAINTS CHRISTMAS SUNDAY...when the Black & Gold battle the STEELERS at home in Mercedes Benz Superdome!  Our Black & Gold coverage starts Sunday at 11am - Steve Korte & Seth Dunlap with the Acadian Windows FANS First Take!  Time to check in from your Saints party.  At 1 o’clock - join Bobby Hebert & Kristian Garic for The Bud light “Countdown to Kickoff” at the dome between Gates A & B.  Game time is 3:25pm.  Then, “The Point After” at Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar on the lake.  Get out there & Who Dat with the Founding Father of the Who Dat Nation!  It’s beginning to look a lot like Saints Christmas Sunday - SAINTS vs STEELERS…  Zach Strief (Streef)…DEUCE… and the Cajun CannonSunday on W-W-L!   

*Saints fans - TURN DOWN YOUR TV & TURN UP SAINTS RADIO!  Why listen to those TV guys, who don’t know the Black & Gold, when you can experience the game with Zach & Deuce?  Syncing up is real easy to do:  just turn down the sound down on your TV … turn up WWL on 105.3FM…then get your remote & pause the game to sync up to our broadcast.  Real simple.  Let’s continue the Saints game tradition with the home team on WWL!

 

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