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Buy Or Sell: Steelers Najee Harris Will Get First 100-Yard Game Of Season Today

With the regular season quickly rearing its head, we are finally beginning to piece together some concrete data to attempt to draw conclusions about the Pittsburgh Steelers and who they will be during the 2022 season.

With new quarterbacks, new coaches in new roles, even a new stadium name, there is plenty of change, creating an environment of even less predictability. That includes the new general manager, which could potentially introduce new variables we will have to learn to adjust to over the years when making our own projections of what decisions the team will make.

These sorts of uncertainties are 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).

Topic Statement: Najee Harris will get his first 100-yard game of the season against the Bengals today.

Explanation: Despite rushing for 1,200 yards on the season last year, Najee Harris only recorded three 100-yard rushing games, including a 188-yard performance in the final game in Heinz Field. But he will be facing a team that had a top-five run defense last year and which is at least as good, if not better, this year.

Buy:

Everybody knew going into this season that feeding Najee Harris was going to be a priority as the driver of the offense, and the Steelers are going to want to set that tone early. With a strong interior offensive line than they had last offseason, they should, whether by attrition or otherwise, be able to produce that kind of yardage against this defense.

Harris will only be better this season than he was last year, precisely for having gone through what he did as a rookie, touching the ball a league-leading 381 times. You saw as the 2021 season progressed that he was beginning to play smarter and his run success rate was arcing upward.

That will continue today against a Bengals defense that has not tackled since last year, basically. They’re going to be tired of Harris shouldering into them by the time the second half rolls around, and that should produce a couple of nice chunks in the long run.

Sell:

The Bengals held Harris to 63 yards on 22 carries over two games last season. While they were simply successful in stopping the run, Cincinnati was also able with its own offense to put the Steelers in a position where they felt the need to put the ball in the air, and that very much can happen again today, so Harris may not even get enough work to reasonably expect him to reach such a rushing total.

This offensive line may be incrementally better than the unit they put out last season, but it’s still not a match for a defensive front that features D.J. Reader and B.J. Hill in the middle. What’s more, they have cornerbacks and safeties who are more than willing to get their facemasks dirty. He isn’t going to have anywhere to run.

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