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Steelers Vs. Jets: 5 Keys To Victory In Week 4

The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their fourth game of the 2022 regular season at home on Sunday afternoon against the New York Jets and they’ll enter that contest listed as a slight favorite for a change. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do at home on Sunday to come away with their second win of the 2022 season.

Up The Thirds – Against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3, the Steelers’ offense only managed to convert one of their nine total third down opportunities and that played a big part in the unit possessing the football just 23:51 in that contest. It’s not like the unit wasn’t in a few makeable situations of 5 yards or fewer, however. For the season, the Steelers’ offense has converted third downs at a rate of just 33.3% and only seven other NFL teams are worse than they are in that statistical category. If the Steelers’ offense can’t start converting at a higher rate on third downs and starting on Sunday against the Jets, the team will have a good shot at losing that home contest and thus dropping to 1-3 on the season. The unit was 8-of-15 on third downs in the team’s Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots so we have seen then convert at a much higher rate this season. By the way, the Jets’ defense is ranked next-to-last in the NFL in allowing third down conversions at 51.3%.

High Performance Cam Needed – Since Week 1, Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward has had a tough time getting to opposing quarterbacks and overall, his impact has been minimal even against the run. While Heyward did register 12 total tackles in the last two games, he failed to register any sacks or quarterback hits to go along with his one tackle for loss and one pass defensed. On Sunday, Heyward will be part of a defensive unit that will be going up against a Jets’ offensive line that will include yet another replacement left tackle. The Jets’ offense has already had their quarterback sacked nine times in three games as well. With outside linebacker T.J. Watt missing yet another game on Sunday, Heyward needs to come back alive against the Jets and that means showing up more where it counts on the stat sheet.

Watch Your Backs – For the season, the Jets’ offense has 92 completions for 918 yards. Their two main running backs Breece Hall and Michael Carter have registered 26 of those catches for 175 yards. That’s 23.3 percent of all receptions the offense has had and 19.1 percent of all receiving yardage. In short, the Steelers defense must be cognizant of the Jets’ offense using their running backs in the passing game on Sunday. The Jets will use their running backs out wide and on wheel routes in an attempt to create a matchup on a linebacker or a safety. Both Hall and Carter can hit homeruns after the catch as they both are more than just ball carriers.

Start YAC-ing More – Through three games played of the 2022 regular season, the Steelers’ offense has managed just 175 total yards after the catch with 91 of those yards coming from their tight ends. To boil that YAC stat down more, the Steelers wide receivers have registered all of 19 yards after catches in three games. That’s pitiful and part of the reason the offense only has eight total explosive plays of 20 yards or more on the season. On Sunday against the Jets, the offensive plan needs to include getting the football in the hands of the wide receivers while running and in space. Enough of the deep sideline heaves, out routes, curls, and comebacks. The Steelers’ offense struggles completing deep passes so explosive plays will more than likely need to come via catching short and running long. Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada needs to mix in some slants, meshes and digs this week as we need to see a lot more YAC against the Jets.

3rd & Zach – Jets quarterback Zach Wilson will see his first playing time of the 2022 regular season on Sunday against the Steelers and he’s sure to have a little rust that he’ll be attempting to knock off at Acrisure Stadium. Some of that rust could show up on third downs and especially when 5 or more yards are needed. In fact, Wilson was quite awful during his 2021 rookie season on third downs of 5 yards or more. On 97 total plays that did not include penalties, Wilson was able to convert just 23 (23.7%) of them with either his arm or his legs. He was just 37-of-74 (50%) passing for 406 yards with just one touchdown and two interceptions. Additionally, he was sacked 17 times in those 97 plays and converted just twice by running with one of those being a touchdown. scamper. Heading into Week 4, the Jets’ offense has converted just 24.1% of their third downs that required 5 or more yards.

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