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: Running back Najee Harris will break (or tie) the Steelers’ all-time rookie touchdown record.
Explanation: The Steelers have had 17 players record at least 11 touchdowns during a season 29 times over the course of franchise history. Only three of them did it as rookies, and first-round running back Najee Harris could be the fourth today. The most recent player to do it was Chase Claypool just last year, with nine receiving touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns (the others being Franco Harris and Louis Lipps). Harris has seven rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns.
With the season on the line, the Steelers are going to try to get the ball into the hands of their best playmakers, and right now, Harris is easily their best. Diontae Johnson hasn’t been as reliable lately as he had been for most of the season, and also missed a day on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Pat Freiermuth hasn’t been too involved since his concussion. Chase Claypool certainly hasn’t been his rookie self.
If plays are going to be made, Harris is going to make them, and that could be as a runner or receiver. He already has the team’s rookie record for the most receptions in a season, now with 70. The record was 62.
First and foremost, the Ravens have one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL, yet the worst passing defense. They have allowed over 4500 passing yards already this year, and 30 touchdowns. Even with Ben Roethlisberger riding it out on fumes, they’re still going to be putting the ball in the air, and Johnson and company will have the better matchups. Plus, we all know Roethlisberger has never shied from a struggling target.
Harris isn’t going to be able to move the ball the way he did last week. And it took him until the last play to score. It was his first touchdown since week 14. He’s only scored in two of the past six games, so the odds favor him not getting into the end zone.