The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their second game of the 2022 regular season at home on Sunday afternoon against the New England Patriots and will enter this competition listed as a minor underdog. Here are five key things I think the Steelers will need to do in the home game on Sunday to claim their second win of the 2022 season.
Another beginner’s guidance is needed – Last week, veteran Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward did a great job welcoming rookie left-back Cincinnati Bengals Cordell Fulson into the NFL. On Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Patriots will likely also start a left guard rookie in the form of a Cole String, the team’s first draft from Tennessee-Chattanooga State. While he played strong overall well in the first week as a pass protector, his blocking in the running game definitely showed the need for improvement. Heyward should get plenty of shots against Strong on Sunday, and it will be interesting to see if he can teach the Novice the same way Volson did in Cincinnati a week ago.
Need more Mitch Trudebsky Against the Bengals in Week 1, Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky attempted seven passes that included air yards of 20 yards or more, according to our game layout. Trubisky only completed two of those attempts, with both coming in overtime. While the Patriots lost in the first week, they only allowed two deep passes from Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in five total attempts. The Steelers character tries to get wide receiver George Pickens more involved in a week two pass game and in the wake of it he runs a few ways deep against the Bengals. Trubisky will need to pick his deep passes on Sunday against a Patriots defense that will likely make him coordinated to maintain cover on the big plays. Trubisky will likely need to connect in more than two deep pass attempts on Sunday if the Steelers are to defeat the Patriots.
The third and much better Against the Bengals in the first week, the Steelers’ offensive was miserable in the third draw with the unit converting just four of their 15 total chances (26.7%). To make matters worse, three of those missed opportunities in third required four yards or less. The offense was one of seven on the third slope of five yards or more. That kind of conversion rate, if repeated in Week 2, is unlikely to lead the Steelers to leave Acresor Stadium with a win on Sunday. Staying out of the third and long positions on Sunday will go a long way in helping the Steelers attack perhaps turn better in the second week at that important time. If the Steelers lose Sunday’s game and it’s not due to multiple turnovers, their third bottom stats will likely tell a huge story.
Don’t crack for the big rounds Overall, the Patriots’ attack wasn’t great against the dolphins in the first week. However, their running game did occasionally show some life during the game. The Patriots ran in the crack throw a few times this past Sunday and had a hit on that play, as well as a few other outdoor runs. The Steelers’ defense is sure to be tested out of competition on Sunday, especially with the absence of full-back TJ Watt. Defensive linebackers are likely to be asked to replace them in crack operations and either force back in or make an intervention. The Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson is a carry and hard to drop at the second level. Preventing him and Damian Harris from scoring a few big runs outside of tackles on Sunday could go a long way in keeping the Patriots attack out of the end zone.
YOU WILL NEED SOME POOTOS Against the Bengals in the first week, the Steelers scored 17 points in total as a result of their defense scoring a full five points. Last week against the Patriots, the Dolphins’ attack had 10 turnovers with seven of them in defensive touchdowns. The Patriots attack is now led by second-year quarterback Mac Jones, who now has 14 interceptions and nine failures in 18 career games. In short, it would be surprising if Jones didn’t flip the ball at least once on Sunday in Pittsburgh. Assuming the Steelers’ defense can have a meal or two ready on Sunday, their attack needs to make sure every one of them is converted into touchdowns and not field targets. Points aren’t likely to be easy for either team on Sunday, so whichever team scores the most POOTOS could win the game.