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2021 Week 10 Steelers vs Lions – What To Watch For

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the table set for themselves today. On deck is an 0-8 Detroit Lions team visiting Heinz Field, with the opportunity for Pittsburgh to secure its fifth consecutive victory. And if it is successful, it will move into first place in the AFC North for the first time since the first week of the season when it beat the Buffalo Bills.

The Steelers subsequently lost their next three games and have been digging their way out of that hole since, but they’re seeing daylight now, and in fact are basically out. If they take care of what they need to take care of, they will be positioned to be the second seed in the AFC with eight weeks left to play.

So what do they have to do to get there? It starts with taking back control of the trenches. Their offensive line took a step back last week, so they’ll be eager to re-establish themselves against the Lions, particularly on the ground.

The Steelers have run the ball at least 30 times in four consecutive games coming into this one. That is due in part due to an increased percentage of successful runs, but it also shows a greater commitment to running it than they had early in the year. Some of that is on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who get to run a lot of RPOs in recent weeks.

In the passing game, much will be on the shoulders of Diontae Johnson, but expect the tight end position to play a big role today. Obviously Pat Freiermuth is central to that, but don’t be surprised by contributions from Zach Gentry and a returning Eric Ebron, either. You think Ebron doesn’t want to make an impact against the team that drafted him?

A key in this game will be making sure to make Lions quarterback Jared Goff feel the heat, as he has been hot garbage when under pressure. He is just 47-of-90 for 530 yards and zero touchdowns with four interceptions when he faces pressure on a dropback this year.

What they need to watch out for is the screen game with running back D’Andre Swift in particular, who already has 47 receptions on the season. Head coach Mike Tomlin rightfully likened his usage in Detroit’s offense to the way in which the New Orleans Saints employ Alvin Kamara—though not with the same results.

The Lions’ biggest receiving threat is tight end T.J. Hockenson. Pittsburgh has done pretty well overall in defending tight ends this year, which historically has not always been the case, so hopefully that is a good sign for today. Hockenson is coming off of a 10-catch, 89-yard game before their bye.

Oh, and that’s another thing to consider: This is a winless team that has had two weeks to prepare for you and come up with strategies to get advantages. We already saw this team pulling all kinds of stunts before the bye week. The coaching staff has to be anticipating seeing all kinds of gadgets in all three phases of the game.

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