It's week 16 and the 10-4 Pittsburg Steelers will host the 2-12 St. Louis Rams at Hines Field this Christmas Eve day at 1pm EST. This will be a contest between two teams in very different situations, with the Steelers still alive to win their division and the Rams holding the worst record in theirs.
While the Rams are looking for another surprise upset, like their win over the New Orleans Saints in week 8, to finish the season on a positive note. They may have to do without the services of Sam Bradford again this week, as he is still nursing a high ankle sprain. Despite rumors that he would be shut down for the season, the Rams starting QB is still listed as day to day and has been vocal lately about his desire to be back on the field. Backup A.J. Feely is still unavailable due his broken thumb, suffered while replacing Bradford after his initial injury, so newly acquired Kellen Clemens will be under center for the Rams. Clemens has spent most of his career with the New York Jets, but signed with the Redskins this July and was released in early September only to sign with the Texans only to be waived so they could sign Jeff Garcia. Clemens is in his 6th NFL season and has gone 25 of 36 for 229 yards with 1 touchdown and no interceptions. Also on the injury front DE Chris Long was listed as questionable and CB Josh Gordy was listed as probable.
The Pittsburg Steelers are still in the hunt to win their division, but they will need help. Coming off a 20-3 shellacking at the hands of the 49ers the Steelers may also be without their starting QB; Ben Roethlisberger did not look good at Candlestick Monday night. Multiple rumors at of the Pittsburg camp say veteran Charlie Batch will most likely get the start. The 37 year old Batch is in his 14th NFL season and an aging pocket passer whose mobility has declined greatly over the years. If Batch gets knocked around early, or is ineffective, we may see number 3 Dennis Dixon. Dixon is a highly mobile quarter back who would be a much better fit for Bruce Arians offensive schemes, which were built around the mobile and difficult to bring down Roethlisberger. On the defensive side of the ball this will be the first game back for LB James Harrison after serving a one game suspension for his helmet to helmet hit on the Cleveland Browns Colt McCoy. It would be a good time for Harrison to step up since Lamarr Woodly is still bothered by a hamstring that pulled him from the Monday night contest with San Francisco early for the second straight game. As of Wednesday Woodly still did not practice.
The St. Louis Rams secondary matching up well with the speed of the young Pittsburg Steelers receivers will be difficult for the Rams. Even though Rashard Mendenhall has been inconsistent this season, look for him to be a major factor in the Steelers offense because the Rams are soft against the run. This game may look for all intents and purposes like a miss match, but you can never look past any team in this league. And the St. Louis Rams will be playing for pride as they reach what will most likely be the end of Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo tenure in St. Louis, and like anybody else would like to win out. The weather should not be a major factor for the Rams, who are a dome team; the forecast is for 46 and sunny.