As we will do every Saturday to get you ready for the week’s game, our X Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. What will make or break the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs.
X Factor: Artie Burns
I guess the first thing we have to hope for is that Burns plays. He popped up on the Friday’s injury report with a toe injury, listed as questionable, but it’s hard to gauge if he’s really in danger of missing. After all, the NFL got rid of its probable tag, still a source of frustration for me.
But let’s hope Burns does, especially with Joe Haden almost certainly NOT suiting up. The Steelers have done a nice job containing Tyreek Hill and Burns has sincerely been a big part of that. He is the only corner on this roster with the physical skills, the size, the speed, to match up with Hill. Even Haden isn’t going to offer that.
Is it possible Burns is asked to shadow Hill? On paper, at least, it makes sense because of that physical stalemate between two freaky guys athletically. It still feels unlikely for a variety of reasons; the Steelers rarely shadow and because Hill is moved around so much, it’s just flat out hard to do and creates its own sets of problems.
Hill v Burns is the matchup you want though if you’re Tom Bradley, Keith Butler, and Mike Tomlin. The Chiefs are going to find ways to get him the ball and if last week is any indication, where he just torched the Chargers, he’s elevated his level of play.
Pittsburgh did a really nice job of keeping a lid on things last week, both in coverage and tackling, but that’ll be tested by better quarterback play. Patrick Mahomes can make you pay much more than Tyrod Taylor is capable of.
Burns has to come up big this weekend. Match Hill vertically, take him on crossers in the middle of the field, make the tackle, and please, for the love of everything good in this world, no more stupid penalties. Can’t give this offense a helping hand.