2. Can the Offensive Line hold up Against a Strong Defensive Front?
Throughout the Preseason, Kenny Pickett and the Steelers offense showed that they have something to prove this year and have the ability to score and blow away the production they put up last season. However, the team has had issues protecting their quarterback in Previous seasons, as well as creating running room, and they will have their work cut out for them early on this season.
While the offensive line has been an issue for the last few years, the Steelers made several moves this offseason that should make this unit the strongest unit the team has seen in recent years, thanks to the additions of Isaac Seumalo and Broderick Jones. However, Jones likely won't start for at least the first few weeks, and the team is going against a potent defensive front in week 1.
San Francisco features arguably the most dominant one-two punch on the interior of the defensive line with Arik Armstead and Javon Hargrave and pairs that with one of the best middle linebackers in the game right behind them in Fred Warner. These three figure to be extremely disruptive both against the run and in pressuring Kenny Pickett.
However, the strength of Pittsburgh's offensive line is also up the middle, with Seumalo, James Daniels, and Mason Cole anchoring down the interior. If they can hold their own against this pair of defensive tackles, then the Steelers should have little to worry about against the interior pressure of other teams.
Where things get most murky is on the protecting the edge, where the Steelers' biggest weakness on the whole team may be. Dan Moore Jr. will be protecting Pickett's blindside and San Francisco boasts the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Nick Bosa, as a potential matchup with him.
According to Adam Schefter, Bosa just signed a massive record-breaking extension to stay with the 49ers. There was hope that Bosa might not play amid his contract holdout, but now with a fresh contract, Bosa will play, even if he is on a slight snap count due to his lack of practice all ofseason.
Bosa could be a huge problem as he is slated to be the biggest mismatch in the entire game in his matchup with Moore. The Steelers' offensive line will be one of the biggest keys to the game, if they hold their own, the Steelers will be able to move the ball and should have a path to victory.