2. Steelers Must Keep Etienne's Explosive Plays to a Minimum
It's established at this point that the Steelers cannot stop the run in 2023. Lucky for them, they get to face Travis Etienne and his 504 rushing yards (4th-best in the NFL) with their 28th-ranked rushing defense.
Etienne has carried the football more times than any other player this season. The Jaguars are really leaning on him this season as their primary playmaker, as he has the third-most rushing touchdowns in the league. Etienne must be licking his chops after his film study of the Pittsburgh defense last week as the defense gave up over 120 yards to the Rams' third-string running back and a guy off the street.
That said, Etienne's averages suffer because of his usage. He's averaging exactly four yards per carry and is only deemed successful on 48% of his carries according to Pro Football Reference. Even still, four of Etienne's seven touchdowns were had from 15 or more yards out, three from over 20. Etienne has 10 runs of over 10 yards, which ranks seventh in the league, and four for 20+, tied for third-most.
I can't really put it any more plainly, watching Etienne against the Steelers' porous run defense is going to be painful. The key can't be to stop him, it's to slow him down and keep his explosive plays to a minimum.
If Etienne is able to rip off huge chunks of yardage consistently, the Steelers don't stand a chance against Jacksonville. Etienne having a strong day means fewer turnover opportunities and more time of possession for the Jaguars, which is a death sentence for Pittsburgh.