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Steelers-Cardinals Pregame Primer: Keys to Victory, Bold Prediction



Steelers Acrisure Stadium AFC Championship Game
Acrisure Stadium before a Pittsburgh Steelers game on Oct. 3, 2022. -- Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers will get to do something they haven’t done in a while on Sunday: play a team they’re dramatically better than.

It doesn’t mean it will go smoothly. The 7-4 Steelers are five wins better than the 2-9 Cardinals. The last time that happened was in 2021, when the 5-3 Steelers played the 0-8 Detroit Lions. The teams tied.

Gameday: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m.

KEY TO VICTORY: Shut down James Conner

The Pittsburgh Steelers dominated Joe Mixon last week, despite the Bengals trying to do anything possible to get their running game going to take some pressure off backup quarterback Jake Browning.

The Cardinals are without Michael Wilson and Zach Pascal and Marquise Brown and Trey McBride are expected to be at less than 100%. Arizona dominating the Steelers in the passing game doesn’t even seem plausible.

But the Steelers have had some trouble with some bigger backs, notably A.J. Dillon a few weeks ago with Green Bay, and they’ve been an inconsistent tackling team all season. So they have something to prove against Coner.

OVERLOOKED MATCHUP: Kyler Murray vs Elandon Roberts

Outside of Conner, the second-best option for the Arizona offense might be Kyler Murray running with the ball. Lamar Jackson ran six times for 45 yards against the Steelers earlier this season. In that game, the Steelers had healthy linebackers, and while Elandon Roberts has done an awesome job filling in for Cole Holcomb and Kwon Alexander, we haven’t seem him tested in the way that spying a now-healthy Murray could test him.

BOLD PREDICTION: Both backs have big day

For two weeks in a row, it was Jaylen Warren toting the rock successfully for the Steelers. Last week, Najee Harris had a big day. How about a game where they both get going? This is a game the Steelers should figure to win, and perhaps easily. It could be a day involving a lot of carries. Both backs have showed signs of breaking out and Arizona’s run defense is awful. It sounds like a recipe for the Steelers to have two backs go over 100 yards.


This should be an easy win, but I think with a solid day from Conner, and perhaps an untimely turnover from a Steelers offense that feels due for one, the Cardinals might be able to keep it close, even though I don’t think the result will be in serious doubt.

Steelers 27, Cardinals 20

Last week: Steelers 19-14 (W)
Season: 7-4

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Steelers -6.5 (-115)

Over 41.5 (-110)

Najee Harris longest rush over 14.5 yards (-110)

Last week: 2-1 (W Steelers -2.5, Under 36.5; L Pickett under 29.5 pass attempts)

Season: 21-12