The Philadelphia Eagles will play a football game tomorrow night! Can you believe that the preseason is already here?
With the Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers scheduled to face off on Thursday evening, I reached out to our SB Nation associates over at Behind The Steel Curtain. The great Jeff Hartman kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let’s take a look at the answers. Also don’t forget to check out my Q&A exchange over at BTSC.
1 - How long should we expect to see the Steelers’ starters play, if at all? Who are the key players in/out?
I wouldn’t expect the Steelers’ starters to see the field for very long at all. The offensive line might play a series or two, but other than that the majority of big-name players won’t see the field. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are already ruled out, and as stated earlier the offensive starters won’t be on the field very long. As for the defense, you can expect to see the starters out longer. This training camp has focused on fundamentals on defense, and they will need to prove themselves before getting any time off.
2 - Can you name an under-the-radar player on offense and on defense we should watch out for on Thursday?
On offense look for two players: RB James Conner and rookie WR James Washington. Both will see a lot of repetitions with the starters, and both have had very good training camps thus far. With Le’Veon Bell out until Week 1, most likely, Conner will be out to prove he can handle the load. Also, rookie QB Mason Rudolph will see his first snaps in the NFL which will be worth watching for Steelers fans.
On defense look for rookie safety Terrell Edmunds. The Steelers’ top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft has been impressive in training camp. Fans are looking forward to that translating to the playing field.
3 - What’s the outlook for the Steelers this year? How many wins are you expecting?
As always, it is Super Bowl or bust for the Steelers. After a 13-3 season there isn’t as much optimism as usual for the team, especially after the playoff loss to the Jaguars, but this team is still capable of being a force in the AFC.
4 - What is the strongest position on the team?
On offense I would say the strongest position is the wide receiver position. Not only do they have Antonio Brown, the best in the business, but JuJu Smith-Schuster looks to build off his incredible rookie season, and James Washington has the traits of a big-time player in the league. The Steelers know how to draft receivers.
On defense, it would be their cornerbacks. This is funny to Steelers fans because the team has had a history of having a lousy secondary. This dates all the way back to the Bill Cowher days, but with Joe Haden, Artie Burns, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton and Brian Allen they are very deep at the position. A lot of quality players on that depth chart.
5 - Can you give us an outsider’s take on the Eagles’ outlook this year? Are you ready for the all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl in February?
I wouldn’t be shocked if it were an All-Pennsylvania Super Bowl in February, but personally I think the Eagles will be good again this year. It all depends on health. Do I think Nick Foles can get them to a Super Bowl again? No. Will Carson Wentz be back and healthy? That is the ultimate question. I will say this, looking at the NFC East the Eagles will have a tough row to hoe to win their division. The Cowboys look poised for a bounce back season, and the Giants are improved after a dreadful 2018 season. Not to mention the Redskins with Alex Smith could be better too. Either way, I have the Eagles winning the division again.
Bonus: Meaningless score prediction?
I’ll take the home team 17-13.