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: The Steelers defense will take the ball away at least three times against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Explanation: Entering week five, The Eagles are tied with the Dallas Cowboys for the most giveaways in the league, with nine. Carson Wentz alone has seven interceptions and a lost fumble, and they have turned the ball over three times twice already this season. The Steelers have five takeaways in three games, but led the league last season with 38, and recorded seven games with at least three takeaways.
While this is a bit of a high buying point, it’s a gamble worth taking (especially since there isn’t actually anything at stake). Wentz is a turnover machine and he’s about to face the best pass rush in the league with a banged up and highly questionable offensive line protecting him.
On top of that, he’s dealing with a crisis in decision-making that has seen him become by far the most turnover-prone player in the NFL, playing a defense that is highly motivated to take the ball away as frequently as possible, and with the personnel to achieve that end.
Basically, this is set up to be a big game in the takeaway department. Pit one of the most turnover-prone quarterbacks in the league against one of the defenses most capably of turning the ball over, and there you go. Three turnovers may even be modest.
The Eagles have been trending in the right direction in the turnover department with just one in their last game. The Steelers’ pass rush won’t do Wentz any favors, but they’ll also concentrate on getting the ball out of his hands quicker, something they have already been working on.
Getting three turnovers in a game is always difficult no matter the circumstances. The Steelers pulled it off seven times last year, but just once the year before, and twice in 2017 when they went 13-3. Last year was a real anomaly with a lot of breaks going their way in the turnover department that shouldn’t be expected to carry over this year. They looking more at the range of 25-30 takeaways this year, not upwards of 40.