Broncos at Steelers: 3 Things to Keep an Eye on

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

By: CJ Lester, @CJLester58
SteelerNation.com

 

Week 1 has come and gone as the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the New York Giants 26-16 last Monday night. Week 2 for the Steelers kicks off in less than 24 hours and we’re all just as anxious as we were last week to see if the team can continue to improve to get into championship form.

 

Last week in review:

The three things I noted that we should keep an eye on last week were:

 

  1. Will Big Ben Bounce Back Early?

It took a little while for Ben Roethlisberger to get going last week, but the drive at the end of the first half was when he hit his rhythm and never looked back.

Roethlisberger finished 21-32 for 229 yards and 3 TDs.

  1. Our Pass Rush against their Pass Rush, who gets to the QB early and often?

The Steelers won the sack battle last week as they were able to get to Daniel Jones a total of 3 times and the Giants sacked Roethlisberger twice. The sack totals don’t really tell the whole story. The Steelers also had a total of 8 QB hits as opposed to the Giants 5 QB hits. The other number that helps outline the pressure the Steelers put on Jones? The total pressures, Jones faced more pressure than any other NFL quarterback in Week 1. The Steelers’ defense totaled 22 pressures making it easier to grab 2 interceptions as well!

  1. Youth at Receiver: Will it play out in our favor?

To answer if the Steelers’ youth at receiver played out in our favor. Let’s take a look at their stat lines.

Juju Smith-Schuster: 6 receptions for 69 yards and 2 TDs (and one hell of a heads-up fumble recovery)

Diontae Johnson: 6 receptions for 57 yards

James Washington: 2 receptions for 34 yards and 1 “grown man” TD

Chase Claypool: 2 receptions for 39 yards (His first career reception being a toe tap masterpiece)

Even though the Steelers are young at receiver, they collectively came up huge in important situations.

 

Let’s take a look at 3 things we should watch for Week 2 at home against the Denver Broncos:

 

  1. Will Big Ben’s stellar history against the Broncos continue?

In 6 career games against the Broncos, the Steelers’ QB averages the most yards per game against the Broncos. In the most recent history, the past two games he has faced them, Roethlisberger has averaged 421 yards per game. History tends to repeat itself. I know things change year to year, but Roethlisberger’s success against the Broncos cannot be ignored. Will he have continued success against this year’s Denver team? With no Von Miller due to injury, the Steelers shift their focus on Bradley Chubb and Jurrell Casey. Both have the ability to be game wreckers, but the Broncos defense only got the QB last week one time. Even with injuries on the offensive line and rookie guard Kevin Dotson getting his first career start, the Steelers’ O-line should be able to keep Roethlisberger upright most of the game in order for him to have time to pick his spots.

 

  1. Physicality: Can the Steelers get the run game going again this week?

 As of right now, it looks like RB James Conner will be healthy enough to go. The question is, will he get the bulk of the carries or will the Steelers “ride with the hot hand” with RB Benny Snell? Snell capitalized on the opportunity last week, totaling 113 yards on 19 carries for a 5.9 yards per run average. The Broncos were able to hold Derrick Henry to 3.7 yards per run average last week, but the running back still had 116 yards on 31 carries. If the Steelers are persistent with running the football tomorrow, no matter who is at running back, they should be able to wear the Broncos defense down to help open up the passing game!

  1. Will the defense continue forcing turnovers?

There are three things that a person can always count on in life and those are death, taxes, and this defense getting at least one turnover. The Steelers’ defense forced 2 turnovers last week against the Giants. The Broncos played relatively a turnover-free game, despite fumbling the ball 4 times, the team only lost 1 of those fumbles. Drew Lock was responsible for 2 of those fumbles. My prediction is that Steelers’ defense will force at least 2 turnovers. Whether it will be interceptions, fumbles, or one of each. Last week, Lock had issues holding on to the football. TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, and company are like sharks in the water; once they get a hint of blood they will continue to attack!

 

What do you think Steeler Nation, what should we watch for Week 2 against the Broncos? Sound off in the comment section below, on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

#SteelerNation 

 

 

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