As we’ll do every week to get you ready for the upcoming game, our X-Factor of the week. Sometimes it’s a player, unit, concept, or scheme. Here’s our X-Factor for Sunday night’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
X-FACTOR: 21 Points
First time I’ve ever had a number be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ X-Factor. But it’s the one I keep going back to when looking at this offense. If Mike Tomlin was playing Blackjack, he’s be really good. These team knows not to go over 21. As I noted in yesterday’s Terrible Take, the Steelers’ offense hasn’t surpassed 20 points in a game this season. They did record 23 in the opener but Minkah Fitzpatrick’s pick-six contributed to the score. Here are the actual offensive totals from all six of the team’s games.
Even with the Fitzpatrick INT, it’s a bottom-three offense in scoring. In fact, the Steelers are the only offense this year not to reach 21 points in a game. A sobering number. The Miami Dolphins return Tua Tagovailoa under center and with him, they’re an entirely different offense. 3-0 with him as the starter who finishes out the game and their offense is averaging eleven points more, 27 versus 16, with him than without. Though he could be a bit rusty, needless to say, having Tua in the lineup means Miami’s in better position to put up points.
Can Pittsburgh pull off another upset? Sure. After last week, it’s hard to dismiss the idea. As they’ve often done, the Steelers showed they can rise when their backs are against the wall. They don’t quit, they don’t fold, there’s no white flag being waved. But beating the Dolphins means scoring points. It’s hard to win this one in low-scoring fashion like they did last week. At some point, this offense will have to come out of the shell they’re stuck in. They can’t and won’t be a playoff team if they’re a bottom-three offense. There’s just no way. Their defense isn’t that elite.
Consider 21 to be the minimum for Sunday’s game and the rest of the way. Weeks 8-18, the Steelers’ offense needs to average at least 21 points per game. That’s doable, it’s still not great, but it’s what this team has to do the rest of the way beginning Sunday night in South Beach.