Pittsburg, Miami primed for big week

By Chris Dertz

Everyone who enjoys making predictions or projections has absolutely hated this NFL season.

And anyone who says that they knew the season would shake down like this is either crazy or the luckiest person since that girl from that Britney Spears song.

Anyway, let’s get right down to some incredibly random ruminations on what this weekend has to offer.

I. Do you have any offensive players on Miami?

If so, play them, and play them without hesitation. In case you somehow weren’t aware, the Dolphins are playing the Packers this weekend. Those same Packers are likely the most injury-plagued team in the history of professional sports.

There are a lot of reasons to like the entirety of the Dolphins’ offense in this one. First of all, Green Bay will be missing two of its best defensive players in linebackers Nick Barnett and Clay Matthews. Losing two linebackers is huge for any team, but the Packers are left completely unable to continue playing in their current defensive scheme without Matthews’ pass-rushing abilities.

Green Bay is going to have a lot of trouble getting any pressure on Chad Henne, giving the Dolphins the potential for a very productive offensive game.

Also, consider this: It’s starting to look more and more likely that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won’t be playing due to a concussion. Green Bay will also be missing physical freak Jermichael Finley at tight end, who has been the most consistent downfield target for this offense. Chalk up the fact that Green Bay still has absolutely no running game, and the Pack is going to have a lot of trouble staying on the field, giving Henne and the ‘Fins all the time in the world to rack up points.

II. Big Ben’s return

What will Ben Roethlisberger’s return mean to the Steelers’ offense?

It will mean that Pittsburgh’s attack is more potent than it has been all season. Teams have a way of rising to the occasion when they get any big-time player back, let alone a franchise quarterback.

Big Ben will be able to put aside all the distractions that have plagued him this offseason and get back to what he’s used to doing: playing Pro Bowl-level football.

Roethlisberger’s presence could also make the Steelers’ already dangerous ground game even more dangerous. While their other quarterback options have been serviceable, nobody on that roster can hold a candle to Ben throwing the ball. Teams will have to respect his ability, and that will open up running lanes for Steelers backs.

Now let’s just hope that Mike Tomlin and his staff don’t get all pass-happy now that they have their quarterback back.