The Pittsburgh Steelers have been red-hot recently, winning six of their last seven games. In honor of this tremendous hot streak, I have decided to throw in not just five but an additional sixth stat that will shape this Sunday’s contest against the Arizona Cardinals. Enjoy!
4 – The Steelers may have T.J. Watt but the Cardinals have a quarterback killer of their own in Chandler Jones. The veteran defensive end is one of the NFL’s most consistent pass rushers and he is currently in the midst of another great season with 13 sacks on the year. Jones has recorded at least two quarterback hits and half a sack in each of his last four games. The man tasked with stopping him this Sunday will be left tackle Alejandro Villanueva. The Steelers left tackle has struggled with dominant pass rushers this season such as Nick Bosa and Myles Garrett and he is in for another big test in Sunday. Villanueva and the Steelers will need to keep the pocket clean this Sunday and this means keeping Jones as far out of it as possible.
5 – Say what you want about Keith Butler but that man knows how to draw up pressure on the opposing quarterback. Since Butler became defensive coordinator in 2015, the Steelers have recorded five or more sacks in a game 19 times. That leads the NFL with the closest team being the Kansas City Chiefs with 16 games during that span. That is bad news for Kyler Murray. The Cardinals’ quarterback was sacked six times last week and has been sacked five or more times in a game three times this season.
26 – Winning on the road is tough for any NFL team but the easiest path to victory away from home is to protect the football. The Steelers have not been doing a lot of that as over the last two seasons, they have turned the ball over 26 times in 13 road games. It should come as no surprise then that the Steelers are just 6-6-1 on the road dating back to last season. Ball security is going to be very important this Sunday and will require a total team effort.
42 – T.J. Watt is one sack away from setting a new career high in sacks and Bud Dupree is 1.5 sacks away from hitting double digits for the first time in his career. They both might accomplish those feats as the Cardinals’ offensive line has been having a sack giveaway all season long. The Cardinals have given up 42-sacks this season, fifth most in the NFL. Kyler Murray must be shaking in his boots as his line will be tasked with protecting him from a Steelers’ defense that has recorded 43-sacks this season. I really like the Steelers’ chances if they can contain Murray and get him on the ground.
45.3 – While there are many periods of drought in the dessert, they certainly have not come at University of Phoenix Stadium. When it rains, it pours and offenses have certainly made it rain on the Cardinals’ defense this season. The Cardinals are giving up a score on nearly every other drive (45.3-percent) and look for Devlin Hodges to exploit that this Sunday. Since coming off the bench two weeks ago, Hodges has led a scoring drive on seven of his 15 drives, not including kneel downs. After struggling to score with Mason Rudolph under center, the Steelers offense has finally soared with Duck Hodges at quarterback.
300 – There is not a whole lot of good to say about the Cardinal’s defense, especially when it comes to their secondary. The Cardinals’ passing defense ranks dead last in the league as they are allowing 307.5 passing yards per game. It has been a tough stretch for Arizona as their defense has allowed 300-yards passing in six of their last seven games. It will be interesting to see if the Steelers can take advantage of the Cardinals’ secondary considering that they have not been a passing team this season. Not only have the Steelers failed to eclipse 300-yards passing yet this season but they have also only passed for over 250-yards once over their last 11 games.