Candlestick Park will host the Steelers vs 49ers. The rivalry will be strong with both teams having the 2nd best records in the NFL with 10-3. Both teams have had an exceedingly good season and they both have a chance at their conference championships. The game promises to offer a rare treat with two of the best teams from the NFC Conference and the AFC Conference in NFL Week 15.
The Steelers will have a few more days advantage over San Francisco when it comes to rest time. However, they might have a significant loss since quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is suffering from a right ankle sprain. His status is currently day to day. Most likely it will take a herd of elephants to keep this quarterback out of the game. He most likely will be on the field even if he is hobbling which is what he did in his last game while still completing 16 of 21 passes for a total of 280 yards along with two scores and one pick. If Roethlisberger plays in the game his mobility might be limited although no one knows to what extent. No matter what this will most likely be a break for the 49ers.
The 49ers will be challenged with the tough defense of the Steelers. The Pittsburgh team ranks 2nd in the NFL. They have allowed only 276 yards and 15.2 points per game. The 49ers let a game slip by last week against fellow NFC West opponent Arizona. They had a comfortable 19-7 edge against the Cardinals when Arizona suddenly rallied and sealed a 21-19 win over the 49ers.
The Steelers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown have been nearly unstoppable this season in the passing game. Brown has a total of 925 receiving yards while Wallace has 1,034 receiving yards along with eight touchdowns and often compete for the most receiving yards in the NFL each week. Undoubtedly the receiving of the Steelers might cause concern to the 49ers. San Francisco has had a stellar defense year although they have had problems with the pass. They have given up an average of 235 yards per game. If Pittsburgh continues their passing attach this can bring out the weakness of the 49ers.
There is no doubt that San Francisco will depend on running back Frank Gore in their offense against the Steelers. Gore has been a standout this year. He has carried the ball for 234 carries. He has traveled 1,034 yards and scored six touchdowns. Last week, in the loss to Arizona, he only carried the ball ten times for 71 yards. If San Francisco can run the ball against the Steelers this will have a big impact on the game. Each weekend Gore has also been competing for the most rushing yards.
It has been reported that Pittsburgh Allpro linebacker James Harrison will not play in the game against the 49ers. Harrison received a one game suspension, without pay, due to his helmet-to-helmet hit against Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy. Harrison has insinuated he will not appeal the process. During the suspension Harrison is not allowed to practice with his team or be at the facility. If Harrison does not play this will be a big break for the 49ers offensive line. They have allowed 18 sacks during their last three games. Harrison has eight sacks in nine games.
The pitting of the Steelers vs the 49ers will be a game no one will want to miss. The opening NFL odds have not been set yet as everyone is waiting to see what happens with Big Ben. The health of Roethlisberger will definitely have an effect on the game. No matter what he will not be 100 per cent if he plays. This, along with the fact that the Steelers have a 2-5 ATS in road games this season might place them at the underdog status. Still, the Steelers are a tough team and they might offer a big surprise come Monday night.