The Steelers need to find a way to win, and here are three bold predictions for their week four game against the Jets.
While saying a week four game is do or die is a bit bold, the Steelers are in a precarious position as of now. 1-2 through an uninspiring three weeks, this team is struggling in almost every facet. The defense has been average at best without T.J. Watt and the offense looks lost most of the time. Worse yet, their schedule only gets tougher from here.
The Jets, on the other hand, are a very beatable team. While better than they have been in seasons past, they are still figuring things out. While getting Zach Wilson back is a plus, he will likely need to shed some rust before finding his grove. Both teams desperately need a win on Sunday. Here are four bold predictions for the Steelers as they take on the Jets.
Alex Highsmith continues his dominance
One of the lone players who looks great most weeks, Alex Highsmith is off to his best season yet as a pro. He has tallied an impressive 4.5 sacks so far and has constantly applied pressure every week. While not his best strength, he has done well to set the edge and play the run as well. Even with the focus no longer on Watt, Highsmith is still excelling right now for this defense.
That doesn’t change this week, as Highsmith continues his hot start to the season. He terrorizes Wilson for most of the day and continues to bully left tackles. He adds another two sacks to his totals as well as a forced fumble and an interception off a blown-up screen pass. While this defense should be looking forward to getting Watt back, Highsmith cements himself as a breakout player this week.
The Jets running backs torch the Steelers
The Jets have one of the more interesting running back rooms in the NFL right now. Breece Hall and Michael Carter both can win with speed, Hall runs with a lot of power, and either can be potent receivers. The Steelers, meanwhile, have been pretty bad at stopping the run game. While Montravious Adams getting the nod this week may help, I don’t think it will be enough.
With Wilson shaky following his injury, I think the Jets running backs take over. They combine for 225 total yards and are the difference maker in the game. Hall is the better of the two, netting 150 of those yards and a pair of scores. A lot of that damage is done through the air, but it is clear that the Steelers run defense is still an issue.
The Steelers lose
Is it bold to say that a team that is 1-2 loses in week four? Probably not, but this is the last game for a while that seems to favor Pittsburgh. A loss here likely leads to a 2-6 record by the time they get to the bye week, which effectively eliminates them from any sort of post-season contention. A win this week keeps a dim hope alive for this team.
I don’t think that happens this week. Behind an impressive performance from their running backs, I think the Jets play ball control. It isn’t pretty by any means, but they hold the ball longer and find ways to score. The Steelers offense, meanwhile, continues their mediocrity. As a result, they lose a very winnable game.
The Steelers continue to make changes
It started this week with Tyson Alualu getting benched, and I don’t think it ends here. If the Steelers lose here, I think we continue to see some new faces get opportunity. Someone I would circle this week is Ahkello Witherspoon. As of this writing, he is up in the air to play, but if Levi Wallace continues to excel, I think he could push Witherspoon to the third cornerback role.
If Najee Harris continues to be mediocre, I think Jaylen Warren could earn more snaps in order to shake up this offense. Another new face on the defensive line is possible as well. Finally, a quarterback switch has to happen if Mitchell Trubisky has another bad game this week. If the Steelers come up short, expect an aggressive overhaul before the Bills game.
The Steelers need to find a way to win this week, as their season could quickly unravel if not. That said, I’m not hopeful. Keep these bold predictions in mind though as the Steelers try and salvage their season this week against the Jets.