The Steelers face off against the Jets on Sunday in Jersey, and the Steelers are hoping to refrain from falling to a dismal 0-5. If they did, it would be their worst start since before the merger. Mike Tomlin ‘shook things up’ this week with some roster moves and also ironing out his daddy issues with his players in the locker room. The Jets are coming off their biggest win of the season so far after defeating Matt Ryan and the Falcons. They certainly have the momentum going into Sunday’s game, but how do they stack up against the numbers?
Steelers Offense vs. Jets Defense
The Steelers offense has struggled all season and rank near the bottom on most major categories in the league. They rank 19th in the pass (341.2 yds/gm) while the Jets defense ranks 13th in passing yards allowed (222.8 yds/gm). The Steelers are ranked worst in the league in running the ball (dear God, I never thought I would ever hear myself have to say that). They are in the basement ranked 32nd in rushing yards (58.0 yds/gm) while the Jets defense ranks 2nd in rushing yards allowed (76.2 yds/gm). As if the Steelers’ struggles weren’t bad enough already, they will be facing a stout and stingy run defense. The Steelers have been on an upward trend of scoring points each week of 9, 10, 23, 27 respectively. Are things getting better? Or are defenses getting worse? We’ll find out when the Steelers have to attack the middle of the field in the passing game if they want to get anywhere with this Jets defense. The Jets rank 5th in the league in sacks with 16. Expect Big Ben to have another afternoon of being pressured, scrambling, and possibly having to force the ball late in the game. The Jets have only one interception so far this season which is tied with the Chargers as next to last in the league. Who’s last? I’ll give you one guess.
Jets Offense vs. Steelers Defense
For the last several seasons, the Steelers have really depended on the defense to help bail out the offense and win some games. For whatever reason, whether it’s coaching, personnel, or a combo of both has put the Steelers in a some unfamiliar territory – an average defense that allows some big plays, has become bad at defending the rush, and hasn’t caused a turnover in 16 quarters of football. The Steelers are ranked 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed (122.8 yds/gm) while the Jets rank 11th in rushing (122.0 yds/gm). Jets RB Bilal Powell is not an explosive back, but has a decent 4.2 yards per carry and a fairly good yards after contact ratio. Surprisingly, the Steelers are still ranked highly in passing yards allowed – 5th in the league (199.0 yds/gm). The Jets rank 19th in the league is passing yards (228.6 yds/gm). Rookie QB Geno Smith has been…. well… a rookie. He has 8 interceptions to his 7 TD’s and has been sacked 18 times. If there were ever a glimmer of hope for the Steelers to get their first win, it’s through Geno Smith. Dick LeBeau is 15-2 all time against rookie QB’s and let’s hope that the Steelers can take advantage of the young QB by getting pressure on him and force some sacks and a turnover or two – things that the Steelers are terrible at this season because they have zero turnovers.
** Not By The Numbers:
- Jets TE Kellen Winslow was just suspended by the Commish on Friday for four games after violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Winslow was Smith’s favorite target up to this point – hitting him 17 times for 169 yards and two TD’s. That could be a huge blow for the Jets and take some pressure off of the Steelers’ inside LB’s in trying to cover the big TE.
- Former Steelers offensive lineman Willie Colon is a Jet. I can’t find the stat, but my sense is that Colon averages a drive killing penalty at least twice a game. I expect nothing less this Sunday, which should work in the Steelers favor.
- Le’Veon Bell had a good first outing in London two weeks ago. His health has been a concern since training camp, and the week off right after his first game might help the kid feel good and springy for his second NFL career game.