Two of the Steelers' top defenders, Troy Polamalu (above) and James Harrison, may be out for Sunday's game vs. the Jets. (AP Images)

Jets at Steelers -- Week 2

Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh (grass, outdoors)

When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)

Spread: Steelers by 6.

Forecast: Mostly sunny, football-fall weather, with temperatures dipping into 60s through the game; 0% chance of rain in the forecast.

Records: Jets (Overall: 1-0, AFC East: 1-0): Steelers (Overall: 0-1, AFC North: 0-0)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Jan. 23, 2011: Jets 19, Steelers 24 (AFC Championship Game); Dec. 19, 2010: Jets 22, Steelers 17. Series record: Steelers have a 15-4 lead. Jets are 0-2 in the postseason against Pittsburgh.

What matters: The Jets manhandled Buffalo’s defense last week, and how much different is the Steelers’ defense if, as expected, LB James Harrison (knee) and S Troy Polamalu (calf) -- two of the past four Defensive Players of the Year -- aren’t in the lineup? Not the same at all, and certainly an ex-Steeler such as Santonio Holmes will figure that out. With a limited and deep-aligned Polamalu, this defense was riddled by Peyton Manning and Denver a week ago. If the Jets have any passing-game success, it could well be the difference in the outcome.

Who matters: Chris Carter is the better pass rusher between he and Jason Worilds, but the Jets will test both players with the run and the pass -- not to mention the Wildcat with the same QB who beat them in the playoffs last year. They’re nice replacements, but no Harrison. Same for SS Polamalu’s backup Ryan Mundy, who switches safety spots after subbing for FS Ryan Clark (sickle cell trait) last week in Denver. It isn’t just them, though. The unit needs game-altering plays from LB LaMarr Woodley, LB Lawrence Timmons, CB Ike Taylor and Clark for the Steelers to win without Harrison and Polamalu -- or even to win with them.

Key matchups: While Taylor vs. Holmes will spark considerable interest, an important matchup will be rookie Jets WR Stephen Hill, with two TDs last week, vs. Steelers CB Keenan Lewis. The Jets’ LBs, namely Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, will make Sunday difficult for OGs Ramon Foster and Willie Colon as well as OTs Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert.

Injuries of note: Forget RB Rashard Mendenhall's right knee. The most important pieces of anatomy to the Steelers’ season right now are Harrison’s left knee and Polamalu’s right calf. Without those two players, the Steelers will be hard-pressed to beat many teams. Mendenhall continues to practice, but don’t expect him to play in a game until possibly October. He has yet to play a snap since tearing an ACL Jan. 1. Neither Harrison nor Polamalu practiced all week.

Inside stuff: Jonathan Dwyer is expected to carry more of an RB load after faring the best of the committee Sunday in Denver. But figure that Isaac Redman will retain his starting and prominent role -- one game doesn’t erase the 217 yards he gained in the final seven quarters of 2011. Rookie RB Chris Rainey should see more touches, too. The Steelers must run the ball and score TDs, two costly failures in the 31-19 Denver loss Sunday.

Connections: Holmes (2006-10 with the Steelers) and Roethlisberger made one of the most memorable connections in Super Bowl history, the tiptoes catch for the winning touchdown thrown over three Arizona Cardinals in SB XLIII. Hill and Dwyer played at Georgia Tech together. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s big NFL break came when then-Jets coach Bill Parcells allowed Haley to switch from scouting to coaching.

Stat you should know: Even with Buffalo’s Fred Jackson hurt and the Jets running away with the game, the Bills’ C.J. Spiller ran up a career-best 169 yards last Sunday. Might the Steelers aim to ram it down the Jets’ defense? ... The Steelers have won nine consecutive home openers, second currently in the NFL (Patriots 10).

Record watch: Roethlisberger needs 176 yards to surpass 27,000 yards, second on all-time team list to Terry Bradshaw (27,989). Woodley (48) is two sacks shy of becoming the sixth to reach 50 career in Steelers history.

Looking ahead: At this stage, the Steelers can't afford to look ahead. They just can’t lose many more AFC games, especially with a schedule backloaded with AFC North games -- five of their final seven.

Prediction: Steelers 27, Jets 25

Follow Steelers reporter Chuck Finder on Twitter @CBSSteelers and @cfinder.