5 bold predictions for Steelers, AFC North in 2023

Steelers, Kenny Pickett
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2. Alex Highsmith leads the Steelers in sacks for second straight year

This one might seem odd -- especially if T.J. Watt stays healthy in 2023 -- but there's good enough reason to believe that Alex Highsmith could lead the Pittsburgh Steelers in sacks for the second consecutive season.

Last year, Watt landed on IR with a pectoral injury and ultimately earned just 5.5 sacks in 10 games. During the same season, Highsmith had a breakout year with a whopping 14.5 sacks, per ESPN stats. Interestingly, 11.0 of these sacks came when Watt was on the field, which means that Highsmith was significantly less productive without him.

Think about it this way: if Watt is injured, Highsmith will be getting at least some sack production while the former Defensive Player of the Year is sidelined. If Watt is healthy, he will be the player drawing the attention of opposing teams, and Highsmith will once again be the beneficiary.

The odds of Alex Highsmith beating out both Watt and Cameron Heyward to lead Pittsburgh in sacks don't seem high, but when you think about the context and the fact that he has been incredibly healthy throughout his career, there's a reasonable shot of this happening again in 2023.