What the Steelers will do: The last time they faced a team that ranked last in the league in rush defense they disdained their NFL No. 1 rushing attack and threw 35 times (21 in the first half) in a 31-28 loss in Denver. Willie Parker, who has a league-best six 100-yard games, carried only 10 times in the first half and finished with 93 yards against the Broncos. The Steelers should not make that mistake again against the Jets, who allow an average of 152.2 yards rushing per game. That being said, look for QB Ben Roethlisberger (13 TDs in his past four games) to pick on the Jets cornerbacks Hank Poteat, a fomer Steelers corner, and Darrelle Revis, their No. 1 pick from Pitt.
What the Jets will do: The Jets have a good running back in Thomas Jones (606 yards), but they don't always get good movement from their line despite the presence of LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. They have two rushing TDs, tied for fewest in the league. Kellen Clemens has replaced Chad Pennington at QB and had an off week to get more comfortable with the offense. Defensively, they allow an average of 228 yards passing, 24th in the league, largely because they don't generate much pressure on the quarterback (9 sacks, tied for fewest in the NFL).
Keep an eye on ...
WRs Jerricho Cotchery/Laveraneus Coles:Theyhave combined to be the fourth most productive wide receiver tandem in the American Football Conference. Cotchery (51) and Coles (42) have combined for 93 catches, 1,155 yards and seven touchdowns. Coles, who did not play in the Jets' overtime loss to Washington because of a concussion, has six of the touchdowns. They will face a secondary that ranks No. 1 in the league and hasn't allowed a pass longer than 38 yards.
Game: Steelers (7-2) at New York Jets (1-8).
When: 4:05 p.m.
Where: Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Radio: WDVE-FM (102.5), WBGG-AM (970).
The Jets are coming off a bye week and likely used the time off to change some of their schemes in an attempt to confuse the Steelers. But they have lost six in a row since their only victory against winless Miami. The Steelers are coming off three consecutive division victories that have given them, effectively, a three-game lead in the division.
Keys to victory
To win, the Jets must ...
1. Lean on Leon. They will need kick returns from Washington and turnovers by the Steelers to make up for their deficiencies.
2. Rake the secondary over the Coles. The veteran receiver has more catches (117) than any receiver who entered the league in 2000.
3. Keep Parker in this century. The Jets have allowed four 100-yard rushers, including 196 to Clinton Portis in their previous outing.
To win, the Steelers must...
1. Not forget Denver. In other words, don't throw, throw, throw against the league's worst rush defense.
2. Keep up with the Joneses. Their No. 1 rush defense is coming off a game in which they held the Browns to a season-low 40 yards rushing.
3. Put the heat on Poteat. The Steelers will attack the former Pitt and Steelers cornerback with deep passes.
First Published November 18, 2007 5:00 AM