Winning Sunday night in Pittsburgh won't be as easy as an 0-2 opponent would make it out to be. While the Bears have been hearing praise all week for winning a game that they almost gave away (four turnovers will do that), the Steelers have been hearing how awful they are since last Monday's flat loss in Cincinnati. Struggling offenses make teams look flat. Rest assured, Mike Tomlin and his staff have used that "hate" to try to reverse the energy as they come back home with the national spotlight on them again. Who'd want to be embarrassed for the second time in less than a week — before heading off to London for next week's game? Some quick thoughts that stand out as my keys to beating a team the Bears should. If these points don't work in their favor, watch out:
Outside contain on Big Ben. Two-time Super Bowl-winning signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger manages to keep plays alive with his size and strength. Before center and O-line leader Maurkice Pouncey went down in the opener, Pittsburgh was using its "draft-and-develop philosophy" up front, with four of the five starters being no lower than second-round picks over the past three seasons. They have yet to click, and it's tougher without Pouncey. But Big Ben can still keep plays alive with his size and his legs. Outside contain from Julius Peppers and the Corey Wootton/Shea McClellin combo will be crucial to keep the pocket intact, where gang-tackling can take him down or pressure him to force the ball into occupied areas.
Tight-end up. Almost the name of a great song by The Black Keys, but a gameplan to keep an eye on. Cincinnati exploited that while Ike Taylor was limiting A.J. Green to six receptions for 41 yards Monday night on the road. He'll be trying to do the same to Brandon Marshall, who vows to make more of an impact since the last time he lined up versus Taylor three years ago. The Bengals burned Pittsburgh through the air via tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, who combined for nine receptions and 132 yards. It sets up well for Martellus Bennett. By the same token, the Bears must make sure Heath Miller — the Steelers' leading receiver a year ago — doesn't return from a knee injury with a splash. He's Ben's checkdown buddy.
Plus-minus. If you can't win the turnover battle against this team, at least draw even without any costly mistakes. You're on the road, against a desperate team versus a 3-4 defense you beat just once in five matchups last season. The Steelers' offense is struggling. Don't make it any easier for them to score and create momentum. If they avoid that and even play the turnover battle even, the Bears should be good enough to improve to 3-0.
Tune in to Comcast SportsNet for an hour-long preview of the game on Bears Pregame Live with Dan Jiggetts, Jim Miller, Jen Lada, John "Moon" Mullin and yours truly. Join CSNChicago.com for a halftime breakdown with Miller, then a full 90-minute Bears Postgame Live with Marc Trestman's and Jay Cutler's postgame press conferences, other player postgame reaction and analysis immediately following the conclusion of the game.