As we will do every week to get you ready for the upcoming game, our X Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. The key area to watch in Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
X Factor: Benny Snell
Benny Snell Football returns.
I know he’s distanced himself from the term, and that’s probably wise, but the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense could use some of his swagger and physicality. This run game sure needs it. Without James Conner and Snell, they’ve been among the least effective in football. Few explosive runs, backs not creating on their own, and just an abysmal third and short offense.
If there’s a week to get things back on track, it’s now. If there was an opponent to do it against, it’s the Bengals.
Few teams in football sport as bad of a run defense as Cincinnati. 30th in yards per carry allowed and on the heels of giving up a 112 yard performance last week to Josh Jacobs and the Oakland Raiders. You can run on Cincy any way you like. Up the middle, on the perimeter, it all can work. Snell’s style, of course, is much more downhill, similar to Jacobs, and if he can produce even half of that output, it’ll feel like a win for the Steelers’ run game.
Mason Rudolph is under the spotlight this week. No doubt about it. But he can’t do it alone. Make him be the entire offense and he’s destined to fail. That’s what happened in last week’s disaster against Cleveland, his worst game of the season. How did the Steelers upset the Chargers with Devlin Hodges at QB? An efficient pass game, sure, but an impressive running attack that pushed the pile forward and kept drives alive. That day, Snell carried the ball 17 times for 75 yards. This week, it’d sure be nice to see him score his first career touchdown.
We don’t need to see the greatest show on turf Sunday. They’re playing the Bengals, arguably the worst team in football with a rookie QB who can’t even complete half his passes. But the Steelers’ offense needs to do something, put up say, 17 points, and a strong run game will get them there.