“Mooney Night Football” in Pittsburgh

(Getty Images)

A 1-3 start to the season by the Steelers had everyone calling for Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement. He looked awful, to be fair, and the offensive line wasn’t giving any opportunity to exciting rookie RB Najee Harris. But the defense has held true throughout, and Big Ben and the Steelers offense has looked serviceable over the past few weeks. They have improved to 4-3 on the season, and are right in the thick of the AFC North race. In Week 9, they battle a 3-5 Bears team that is still hoping for a breakout from rookie QB Justin Fields.

Game script

Although it seems like a matchup between two run-first offenses and solid defenses, we can expect some primetime fireworks as well. While the consistent Najee Harris will help keep the offense on the field, it will be Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth in the passing game that give the Steelers a solid air attack. You can probably also expect a big red zone TD to Chase Claypool to help the Steelers’ passing game look competent.

Khalil Herbert will look to equal Harris’ output for the Bears, but Justin Fields and his rushing ability just may keep the Steelers D enough on their heels so that the Bears offense can put up some points. Fields is just getting started, and if he can build on last week’s improved performance, there is definitely cause for optimism in Chicago. T.J. Watt will try to stifle said optimism coming off the edge, and due to Pittsburgh’s offensive line woes, you can pick any of the Bears front seven as potential sack stat stuffers as well.

The X-factor?

In a game that could very well see both teams struggle to eclipse the 20 point threshold, there is a case to be made for Darnell Mooney to provide a potential big play spark that will at least keep the Bears close. Mooney leads his team in targets (53 to Robinson’s 44, per CBSSports), and if Fields continues to improve as a passer, Mooney can be a huge asset. Mooney only has one touchdown on the season, but has been consistent in his involvement all season. I predict a rollout by Justin Fields where he finds Mooney for a 40+ yard touchdown pass, in addition to his normal four catches for forty yards. It certainly feels as if Mooney is on the cusp of providing some big numbers, and let’s not forget the aforementioned Allen Robinson II, who has proven in the past he can put pressure on opposing defenses.


Although I like the exciting youngsters on the Bears (I may even start Mooney on my personal fantasy team), I don’t like them to win this matchup on the road in Pittsburgh. The Bears will admirably keep it close, but a late-game sack by the Steelers (most likely T.J. Watt) will ice a close victory for Big Ben and the Steelers.

Steelers win 19-17.

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