Is it time to hit the panic button on the Pittsburgh Steelers?
They’ve lost their last three games and sit at the bottom of the AFC North. The current NFL betting odds show Pittsburgh as 1-point favorites at home in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos.
Mike Tomlin has surprised us all before by turning losing records into winning ones, but will that process start this week vs. the Broncos? I’m not so sure.
Pittsburgh Steelers Stuck on Offense
To say that Pittsburgh has had a tough time on offense would be an understatement. They rank in the bottom half of the league in rush yards per game (#30) and pass yards per game (#16).
The first person to blame when an offense is failing is the quarterback, and rightly so.
Ben Roethlisberger has been struggling to start the season. Accuracy problems, mobility issues, and fleeting arm power are all symptoms of Big Ben’s demise. After Week 4, Roethlisberger only sports a lowly 36.3 QBR.
Diontae Johnson and rookie running back Najee Harris have been the only bright spots on this floundering offense.
The ‘Steel Curtain’ Is Long Gone
The heralded Pittsburgh defense of old has not been reincarnated this season.
Versus the Packers last week, the Steelers allowed five consecutive scoring drives in the second and third quarter. They haven’t been much better in their first three games either.
This year, the Steelers rank 19th in opponent pass yards per game. But, surprisingly, they haven’t been too bad against the run, allowing only 99 rushing yards per game.
Broncos Outlook in Week 5
The Teddy Bridgewater-led Broncos have looked much improved from last year to start the season.
The only problem for this matchup is that the Broncos very well might be without Bridgewater, as he suffered a concussion vs. the Ravens on Sunday. If backup quarterback, Drew Lock, is under center against the Steelers, I think the Broncos will have some trouble gaining yards.
The good news for the Broncos is that they’ll still have their defense with or without Bridgewater. This defensive unit has only allowed 12.2 points per game so far, good enough for the #2 ranking in PPG.
I think the Broncos will stick with what gave them some success against the Ravens, the blitz. Look for Von Miller and Caden Sterns to be focal points in Denver’s Sunday game plan as they try to create pressure on Big Ben in the pocket.
A Defensive Struggle
I believe the outcome of this game all comes down to Teddy Bridgewater’s availability. I don’t see either offense moving the ball effectively against each other’s defenses, but the Broncos gain the edge if Bridgewater plays.
If he doesn’t play, I could see the Steelers putting together an ugly win against a durable Broncos defense. The only thing that scares me is the young Steelers’ offensive line vs. the blitz.
This season isn’t Mike Tomlin’s first time starting 1-3, and maybe Sunday, he figures out how to flip his team’s narrative.
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