The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
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’ pass rush will have as much success against the Raiders as it did against the Bills.
Explanation: Entering the season, the Bills were expected to have a good offensive line. The Steelers’ pass rush made them look anything but, and they have the talent to do similar to any other offensive line in the league.
While Kolton Miller has been developing positively, rookie Alex Leatherwood was anything but impressive in his debut last week, and he is playing across from T.J. Watt. That’s a bad matchup all day, and there’s no reason to think Watt shouldn’t be at least as successful this week as he was last week.
On the other side, Alex Highsmith draws a less favorable matchup, though he figures to have more success than the Ravens did. And nobody looked like they could stop Melvin Ingram last week. That’s just the edge pressure.
The Steelers are also expected to incorporate a three-outside linebacker package, perhaps beginning this week, getting them all on the field at the same time together. They will likely boost their blitzing numbers as well. If they are slower to create pressure this week, they will dial it up as needed.
Pittsburgh had about as good of a performance getting after the passer last week as you would hope. Josh Allen probably hasn’t been that comfortable very often in his career. Cameron Heyward in particular played at another level. To expect the defense to duplicate that two weeks in a row is generous.
It’s possible that they may better the three sacks recorded last week, but the consistent, sustained pressure that they had against the Bills is harder to come by. Miller, at least, will get the job done on the left side. The reality is that, outside of Heyward, they don’t have much in the way of interior pressure in the first place.