The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to build off of a dominant offensive performance last week against the Chiefs in which they put up 43 points, an effort that was aided by two early defensive turnovers that provided the offense with short fields to work with, enabling them to jump out to an early lead that they never came close to relinquishing.
While the Chiefs certainly have a solid defense, the Jets’ defense probably provides an overall slightly more challenging task, particularly as it pertains to a potentially dominating defensive line, arguably the best 3-4 front line in the entire league. As it should be, considering the fact that it includes three first-round defensive ends in the mix.
With that in mind, there are going to be a lot of eyes drawn toward offensive lineman Chris Hubbard making his first career start, at right tackle, which means that he will draw a lot of looks, likely, against Sheldon Richardson. How he fares in general, and how much help the Steelers provide him, will be worth tracking.
Like last week, the Steelers’ second and third wide receivers were able to take advantage of a banged up and inexperienced Chiefs secondary, and they will be facing a similar adversary today with the Jets’ being absent Darrelle Revis, even if his struggles this year have been documented.
The snap distribution at running back will be very interesting to monitor given the way that the Steelers used Le’Veon Bell last week, who was on the field together with DeAngelo Williams 10 times, and lined up as a wide receiver over 40 percent of the time on passing downs.
It seems clear that the offense is experimenting with how best to make the most of Williams’ skill set as well as Bell’s versatility, and this may take a feeling out process in order to adjust to what works and what doesn’t, as we saw last week.
Defensively, we are looking at more of the same from last week, with inside linebacker Vince Williams stepping in for Ryan Shazier, who remains out with a knee injury for the second straight game, and Jordan Dangerfield filling the shoes of Robert Golden, who is similarly missing a second game in a row due to injury.
The variable this week is that they are getting Sean Davis back into the fold, who should step back into the slot and push William Gay back to the outside for the majority of the game. What I will be curious to see is if they move back to the dime, which they haven’t really played the past two weeks due to injury circumstances and too many moving parts.
The team is also facing an offense that has had a high turnover rate this season, particularly in the past couple of weeks, and they themselves are coming off a game in which they had their most success turning the ball over. Can they carry that momentum forward into today’s game? That goes for the pass rush as well.