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 will be able to control the Chiefs’ running game and put all of the pressure on Patrick Mahomes.
Explanation: While it’s certainly not a bad strategy for the Chiefs to rely on Mahomes, eliminating the run game is an essential part of any feasible strategy for the Steelers to win today. Kansas City does not have Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but they were still able to run last time out with Darrel Williams and Derrick Gore.
Last time out, the Steelers were without Chris Wormley and Devin Bush. Joe Haden was still working his way back from a Lisfranc injury. Montravius Adams was just coming off the Reserve/COVID-19 List. And T.J. Watt barely played half the snaps.
This is certainly a different team than the one that faced the Chiefs just a few weeks ago, and that includes depth, as well. They’re as healthy as they have been all season, relatively speaking, and getting Wormley and Bush back does a lot for their ability to create matchups.
The Chiefs’ running game is more workmanlike than anything, a clear complement to their passing game, and the absence of Edwards-Helaire has been noticeable. If they can just keep Williams and Gore handled, they’ll at least be able to focus more on the pass rush and give themselves a prayer.
Anything is possible when you’re talking about the worst run defense in the league. The Steelers could make awful rushing offenses look great, and they have, even when they have been healthy. The Chiefs have rushed for more than 125 yards as an offense in four of their past five games, as well, so the Steelers game was not an exception.
The thing is, like Pittsburgh, wide receiver sweeps and motions are also a part of their offense. And unlike the Steelers, they also get scrambles from Patrick Mahomes, who has almost 400 rushing yards this year, and who hurt the defense last time around. There’s nothing indicating he’ll be less able to do that today.