It sure feels like it hasn’t been too long since we last did this, but here we go again. The Pittsburgh Steelers are not the only game on today, as they were last week, but they do get to play at an odd time at least, at 5 PM. And on top of that, they don’t even get a nationally televised game out of it for some reasons that I frankly don’t care about. But on to the game.
What I’m looking for more than anything today is the pass rush. The Washington Football Team has given up among the most sacks in the NFL this year. the Steelers have the most sacks in the NFL. There is a good chance that they are able to put up three or more sacks working against Alex Smith today behind a something less than remarkable Washington offensive line.
Given that he scored three touchdowns on the ground his last time out, the Steelers will be keying on rookie running back Antonio Gibson, who already has 11 rushing touchdowns this year. Even though they don’t have great rushing numbers overall, Gibson has produced, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He does have 17 carries of zero or negative yardage, however, which is more than 10 percent of his carries.
In the passing game, Gibson can also work there, but the focus, provided that he plays, will be on second-year Terry McLaurin, who is developing into a consistent threat on an average offense. He has at least 74 receiving yards in all but two games, including six straight. Tight end Logan Thomas is the other area of concern with four touchdowns, the most through the air on the team.
Meanwhile, Washington may have among the most underrated defenses in the NFL, led by their young pass rushers such as Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Tim Settle, bolstered by the veteran Ryan Kerrigan. They also have name players in the middle like Jonathan Allen and DaRon Payne. With a secondary including the likes of Landon Collins and Kendall Fuller.
Of course, this isn’t the best time the Steelers have played this season by any stretch. They are simply better than their record might indicate, especially with the way that they have been playing lately. Pittsburgh is still the more talented team, and the front of Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and T.J. Watt will, as always, be key.
But we must also keep an eye on Alex Highsmith and Cameron Sutton. Highsmith is starting his first game since Bud Dupree was lost for the season on the edge. Sutton will be starting on the outside in place of Steven Nelson, expected to miss the game due to injury.
And even Chris Boswell is not expected to play, so we have to worry about the kicking game on top of everything else. Depending on how this game goes, and how they performed in the red zone last week, this could be a pretty important aspect of the game.