Long odds don't faze Steelers

Steel City wake-up: morning links

The odds are long for the Steelers rebounding from an 0-4 start to make the playoffs. Perhaps that is why the Steelers say they stay focused on the opponent and not the math that is front of them.

The Detroit Lions visit Heinz Field on Sunday, and they will pose a variety of matchup problems for the Steelers. Defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley will test the Steelers’ banged-up offensive line. Coach Mike Tomlin talked earlier this week about how disruptive Suh and Fairley are and how the Lions front seven “tramples the run on the way to the quarterback.”

Detroit does not have a lot of sacks this season but it will have a chance to add to that total Sunday against a quarterback whose trademark is holding onto the ball to extend plays.

On the other side of the ball, Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson will test the Steelers in every which way. The Steelers, to a man, have said Johnson is easily the best wideout in the NFL, and running back Jonathan Dwyer recalled Johnson’s exploits from when the two were teammates at Georgia Tech.

Safety Shamarko Thomas has already been ruled out for the 1 p.m. game because of a high-ankle sprain, meaning veteran Will Allen will likely take his place in the quarter package in which the Steelers use three cornerbacks and three safeties.

Allen re-joined the Steelers earlier this season, and he has been a key special-teams player, particularly on the punt return team. Allen has helped spring Antonio Brown for several long returns, and the latter has shined as both a punt returner as well as a wide receiver.

His 67 catches lead the NFL, and Brown is fifth in the league with 805 receiving yards.