The Steelers have their final preseason game against the Lions, and here are four bold predictions for their matchup.
The Steelers have had a very telling training camp so far. While some players have stepped up to the plate, others have seemingly floundered. There is still a lot riding on quite a few players in this final game. While a lot of roster spots are set in stone, there are still quite a few battles that won’t be decided until after this game.
Some starters are vying to keep their jobs. Other players are just hoping to cement themselves as a roster candidate or even a practice squad option. The Steelers are seemingly using this game to be a tune-up for the regular season, so a lot should come away from this final preseason game. With all of that said, here are four bold predictions for the Steelers final preseason game against the Lions.
McFarland makes a final push for the roster
It has been an up-and-down camp for veteran running back Anthony McFarland. He entered camp with two years of experience but not a lot of actual film to his credit. Not a lot was expected of McFarland in year three, but he shined early on. In camp and through the first preseason game, McFarland finally looked the part of a valuable backup running back.
The remainder of the camp and through the second preseason game, McFarland returned to his quiet ways. Now, he seems to be on the outside looking in for a roster spot as other names have staked their claim.
That said, I think if McFarland has a strong final preseason game and once again flashes the speed you want out of him, it will make the Steelers choice of whom to keep and cut become that much harder as he tries to maintain his spot on the team.
Bush continues to look lost
A player that has looked rough this offseason has been Devin Bush. Many were hoping that the former top pick would finally put things together last season, but he ended up becoming a liability on the defense. Now, he is entering a critical year as he is a free agent after this season and needs to flash some of the traits that made him a top pick.
Unfortunately, I think the struggles continue with Bush in this final game. Expect him to get a lot of burn on defense because of his struggles, but I don’t see why he would suddenly look good again. I don’t think Bush is long for the starting role at this point, as he has failed to make a big impact and return to form since his injury.
Steelers offensive line finally flashes some positives
It has been a well-documented and unfortunate issue, but the Steelers offensive line has looked horrible this season. Despite a few new additions and the hope that a few players would grow, this group has looked lost so far. While not a cop-out, the reason for this line struggling so much so early is likely the new faces both to the group and to the coaching staff.
No, this line won’t be perfect and instantly turn things around. With this being the third week and the emphasis on the team this week likely focused on the line getting better, I think the group shows some stability heading into this final preseason game. The Lions have a stout line, but I think the Steelers offensive line holds its own this week.
Pickett is awarded the starting job
A player that has genuinely surprised me, Kenny Pickett has looked far better than I thought he would have as a rookie. While seen as a pro-ready prospect, Pickett showed some early struggles in Steelers camp. He has since rebounded with a good game against the Seahawks and an even better showing in the game against the Jaguars.
While the intention isn’t to have him start, Mike Tomlin has made it clear that the Steelers haven’t decided on a starter yet. I think Pickett turns in another fine performance against the Lions and as a result, he is named the week one starter. Pickett looks the part, and the team will be in a tough position if they don’t start him following another solid preseason performance.
Despite this still being just a preseason game, the Steelers have a lot on the line against the Lions. Watch for these bold predictions as the team tries to finalize its roster before the regular season begins.