By Dave Thomas
The end of a three-game home stand comes Sunday when the Pittsburgh Steelers visit Seattle. The Seahawks know that their opportunities to catch the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals are dwindling, so each of Seattle’s remaining games are must-wins.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Is Another Relief Payment Coming Soon?
With their 34-31 win on national television over Cincinnati this past Sunday evening, Arizona (8-2) maintained a solid three-game lead over Seattle (5-5) in the division race. Toss in the fact that Arizona beat Seattle in their first meeting of the season a few weeks ago, and the lead actually seems like four games.
So, with just six regular season games left on the schedule, Seattle needs to win out and hope Arizona slips up along the way several times, including when the two meet for the second and last time of the regular season Jan. 3 in Arizona.
Focus All On Steelers And Nothing Else
Meanwhile, the Seahawks will worry about Jan. 3 when it gets here, instead focusing primarily on the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coming off of their bye week, the Steelers are looking to dominate the Seahawks as they did the Browns two weeks ago. In that 30-9 win over old AFC North rival Cleveland, Pittsburgh got three touchdown passes from QB Ben Roethlisberger to continue dominating the Browns. While Roethlisberger has battled a pair of injuries this season, the two-time Super Bowl champion has shown on more than one occasion that even when he’s less than 100 percent, he’s a player who can dominate a game with his clutch throws and sound decision-making.
So, what will the Seahawks need to do in order to come away Sunday with their sixth win of the season?READ MORE: Child Tax Credit: October Payments Hitting Parents' Bank Accounts
Among the keys:
1. Run the ball
If Seattle can get another sound performance at running back from rookie Thomas Rawls (209 yards rushing, one TD on the ground, one TD through the air) in place of injured starter Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks can likely control the ball and time possession. Anytime you can keep Roethlisberger and star wide receiver Antonio Brown on the sidelines, you stand a better chance of coming out ahead.
2. Hassle Roethlisberger
While even the most ardent of Seattle fans will likely admit the 2015 version of the Legion of Boom is not quite on par with the past two seasons, the Seahawks still put a formidable defense out on the field. Since Roethlisberger has been battling a foot injury as of late, harassing him and keeping the ball out of the hands of Brown, for starters, puts Seattle in a better position to win. If the Seahawks can also bottle up starting running back DeAngelo Williams (534 yards rushing, 5 TD’s), all the better;
3. Avoid scoreboard watching
Even though there are still six games left in the regular season, this is the time of year when teams can get caught looking at the scoreboard to see what their biggest opponents are doing. Arizona plays at San Francisco this Sunday afternoon, a game in which the Cardinals stand as 10-point favorites. It will be important for Seattle to focus on the task at hand, a good-but-not-dominant Pittsburgh team, so that the Seahawks can come away with the win and then move on to Minnesota the following weekend.MORE NEWS: Child Tax Credit: When Will Your October Payment Show Up?
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.