The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their seventh game of the 2022 regular season on the road Sunday night against the Miami Dolphins, and they’ll enter that contest listed as at least a touchdown underdog to boot. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do on the road on Sunday night to come away with their third win of the 2022 season.
Don’t Die On The Miami Hill – The Dolphins’ key offensive weapon heading into Sunday night is none other than Tyreek Hill, who enters week 7 as the NFL leader in receiving yards with 701 on 50 catches. Two of those receptions also resulted in touchdowns. If that’s not enough, Hill is also tied for the NFL lead in receptions that gained 20 or more yards with 11. Those 11 resulted in 362 yards and two touchdowns. While the Dolphins obviously have another explosive weapon on offense in wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, the Steelers defense needs to do all that they can to make sure he’s the one to beat them and not Hill. Waddle enters Sunday night nursing a shoulder injury so it’s probably better for the Steelers defense to take their chances with him. Hill is going to get some catches and the Steelers know that after facing him twice last season when he was with the Kanas Chiefs. They just can’t let Hill go crazy on them when it comes to explosive plays. If they can limit Hill, perhaps they can keep the game close. The Steelers defense has allowed the most passing explosive plays in the NFL entering Week 7 so it will be a tall task for sure when it comes to Hill.
Bang The Banged-Up Corners – The Dolphins enter Sunday night with issues at the cornerback position and then some. They lost starting cornerback Nik Needham to a torn Achilles last week for starters. On top of that, backup cornerback Keion Crossen is unlikely to play on Sunday night due to a knee injury. Slot cornerback Kader Kohou, who missed Week 6 with an abdomen injury, was listed as questionable on the Friday injury report. Even starting cornerback Xavien Howard isn’t 100 percent this week as he’s dealing with a groin injury as of Friday. About the only healthy cornerback that the Dolphins have right now is Noah Igbinoghene, who has been wearing the bust label for quite some time now. In short, Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett should probably throw quite a bit Sunday night and probably away from Howard. The Steelers wide receivers should have the advantage this week and that includes Chase Claypool in the slot and rookie George Pickens at the Z spot. The Dolphins are likely going to play a lot of cover-3 Sunday night but even if they do, there should be some opportunities to make big plays against the cornerbacks. This is certainly a group of cornerbacks that is ripe for exploiting Sunday night. Pickett and company must go after Igbinoghene and Kohou.
Get Right After Tua – The Dolphins will likely have starting left tackle Terron Armstead back on Sunday night and if indeed that’s the case, it will be interesting to see who starts at right tackle. It should be either Greg Little or Brandon Shell. Neither Little nor Shell have been great in pass protection this year, so the right tackle spot figures to be the weakness on the Dolphins’ offensive line Sunday night. Usually, Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith rushes from the right side of the Steelers defense for the most part. He has, however, played a little on the left side. He’s the Steelers best edge rusher with outside linebacker T.J. Watt still sidelined so it might not be a bad idea to give him plenty of opportunities to rush against the Dolphins right tackle Sunday night and especially with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa being left-handed. At the very least, using Highsmith on the left side might force the Dolphins to give their right tackle quite a bit of help from either a tight end or running back throughout the game.
Get The Running Game “Right” – The Steelers have struggled running the football consistently for some time now and longer than I want to remember. If they are going to beat the Dolphins in Miami Sunday night, their running game must show some life. The Dolphins’ run defense has been okay this season, but they have been run on with success to the right guard and right end spots. In fact, on 27 such runs by opposing running backs to right guard and right end against the dolphins defense this season 127 yards have been gained along with three touchdowns. That’s 4.71 yards per tote. The right side of the Steelers offensive line is where guard James Daniels and tackle Chukwuma Okorafor both reside. Every effort needs to be made by the Steelers offense to run to that right side Sunday night. Last week, Steelers running back Najee Harris ditched the steel plate that he had been using in his shoe and Sunday night we need to see him have his best game this season on the ground. It’s time for him to get right.
Turn Plus Two Against Tua – The Steelers enter Sunday night just plus-one in the takeaway department. While they do have 10 total takeaways on defense for the season, five of those came way back in Week 1. That means that they have averaged just one takeaway in their last five games and that’s just not going to cut it. Additionally, the Steelers are minus-four in the turnover differential stat since Week 1 when they were plus-five in that game. Sunday night against the Dolphins, the Steelers are likely going to need to be at least plus-two in the turnover category and that’s very doable. Tagovailoa isn’t Tom Brady and he does make mistakes. As a point of reference, the Dolphins enter Sunday night minus-five in turnover differential and in their last five games they are minus-eight overall.