The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: T.J. Watt will continue his eight-game sack streak.
Explanation: While Cameron Jordan’s four sacks on Thursday knocked him down another notch, T.J. Watt is still forth in the NFL in sacks (and first in the AFC). He has recorded at least a split of a sack in each of the past eight games, and in nine of 11 games. Tomorrow, he faces the Cleveland Browns, against whom he has recorded eight of his 31.5 career sacks, three more than any other opponent.
Watt has played five games against the Browns in his career, and he has eight sacks in those five games. He has had at least one sack in every single one of those five games. So it’s not exactly a stretch to go out on a limb and bet on him getting another one in his sixth game.
It helps that the Browns’ offensive line isn’t great. Chris Hubbard hasn’t been an extreme liability, but he also never ended up as the reliable right tackle the Browns thought he would be. To make matters worse, Greg Robinson on the left side will be out Sunday, so they’ll probably be giving Justin McCray a lot of help with Bud Dupree, which should leave Watt open for more one-on-one opportunities.
It’s almost to the point where he’s just too good not to get a sack that he’s healthy for, as long as their opponent is passing. He does a great job of building up his arsenal over the course of the game, setting up moves to win later. And he can certainly out-endure any right tackle in the league.
All streaks must come to an end, and Watt’s eight-game sack streak is one of the longer ones the Steelers have had in their history. Hell, they haven’t even had too many seasons in the past decade in which any player has had a sack in eight games, let alone consecutive games.
It’s also notable that he has been a bit banged up lately. He briefly left Sunday’s game, though he was able to return. It wouldn’t be a shocker if he has an off game at some point in here just because his body isn’t where it needs to be.
Plus, it’s entirely possible that the Browns spend a lot of time tomorrow running the ball. They may have the best one-two combo of running backs in the league in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.