With a 43-14 victory, the Steelers have restored hope in Steeler Nation with their emphatic redemption song against Kansas City last week. But that doesn't erase the loss to Philadelphia in any sort. The Steelers, in the last few seasons, count more-than-enough losses against teams under .500.
Remember Mike Glennon and the Bucs? Do you recall Mike Vick and the Jets? The Saints? Browns? Titans? That's just to name a few. My concern has been lately that a favored, Steelers team is more susceptible to a loss than an underdog Pittsburgh squad. I like to think that the Phily stinkfest will put an end to those fears. Here are a list of players that will be mentioned prominently on Sunday for the opposition.
QB-No. 14 Ryan Fitzpatrick
Despite being on pace for a 16 touchdown/40 interception season, the Jets are staying with their signal-caller, for now. Fitzpatrick rewrote Jet passing-records last year with 31 touchdowns. The Harvard QB doesn't have a particularly strong arm, but he has weapons to dole the ball out to and he makes it happen. Fitz has a completion rate of 55.8%, is averaging 253 YPG and has thrown 10 picks. He did, however, go off on Buffalo in Week 2 for 373 yards. But what version of the Jets QB will Pittsburgh face this week? Fitzmagic or Fitzmanic? According to Pro Football Focus, No. 14 had a 19.5 rating on his 15 drop backs in the game last week and was 0-4 on passes over 20 yards.
WR- No. 15 Brandon Marshall and No. 81 Quincy Enunwa
Going up against Richard Sherman last week, the 11-year veteran had four grabs for 89 yards and his first touchdown of the season. He's big and strong, but not particularly fast. Marshall, paired with Eric Decker, leads a duo that is superb in pulling in contested balls. However, Decker is still nursing a partially-torn rotator cuff and his status remains uncertain, so Marshall is expected to draw a lot of attention on Sunday. He has 16 catches on the year for 249 yards. Not quite good enough to win AB's Rolls Royce in their version of the "Keniecke/Craterface pink slip wager" in 1978's Grease. But concerning enough for Carnell Lake's D-backfield boyz" to worry about.
Most likely to see Decker's balls is Quinvcy Enunya. Enunya, who has 23 catches for 243 yards, is on pace for 92 catches. Enunya is powerful, speedy and agile. The former Nebraska Cornhusker has pulled in nearly 72% of the passes thrown his way, good enough for 10th in the league. With attention going Marshall's way, Enunya will get more than enough of an opportunity to shine in the Heinz Field sun.
RB- No. 22 Matt Forte and No. 29 Bilal Powell
The Steelers rank fourth against the run and the Jets are the 12th best running team in the league. Last week against Seattle, the Jets ran for a mere 61 yards. Forte led the team with 30 yards on 15 carries. Hardly any of his yards came when making the defender miss. After a tremendous start against Cincy and Buffalo, Forte has leveled off. The former Bear has 3 touchdowns and is averaging 72 YPG. However, Forte is the perfect back to slow the game down by carrying the ball over 30 times for 100-plus yards and keeping the Steelers offense off of the field. Accomplishing this feat would benefit the Jets greatly.
Bilal Powell can also be dangerous to the Steelers. In the manner that Darren Sproles devastated the Steelers two weeks back, Powell could do the same. The Louisville Cardinal is patient, shifty and explosive. Powell is averaging 7.6 YPC and has 15 receptions for an average of 6.9 YPR.
CB- No. 24 Darrelle Revis
When listing the best corners of the past ten seasons, the Pitt and Quip product is always in the conversation. The five-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro-Bowler has 28 career picks, but has showed some decline a bit in 2016. Revis Island and company surrendered 180 yards to AJ Green in the opener. In fairness, Green is spectacular. But so is Antonio Brown. The Jets secondary is still markedly better when Revis is out there, but that may be a moot point if Revis' hamstring injury keeps him out. No. 24 has not practiced this week and is a gametime decision. If Revis is out, Buster Skrine takes over and may find himself stranded on an island of his own.
C- No. 74 Nick Mangold
The Steelers had a solid game against a decent center last week in the form of Mitch Morse. They are facing a more superior foe this week in Nick Mangold. The 11-year vet is the leader of the o-line that Pro Football Focus ranks 19th in the NFL. So far, the seven-time Pro Bowler has been close-to-perfect in pass protection.
OLB- No. 91 Sheldon Richardson
Richardson is a fine tackler, breaks double teams and knows how to get into the backfield in a "New York Minute". Richardson missed the season open due to suspension. He has 12 tackles and half-a-sack in three games this year. Against Seattle, Sheldon racked up four QB hurries and a hit on Russell Wilson. With a line decimated by injury, Richardson will be a tough task for "the Munch Bunch" for certain.
DL- No. 92 Leonard Williams
On the season, the best defender at getting to the quarterback on the Jets has four sacks and 16 tackles. The USC Trojan is explosive as soon as the ball is snapped and tough to redirect. Williams equally gets to the passer and the ball carrier.
DL- No. 96 Muhammad Wilkerson
Last week, Wilkerson was the most dominant Jet defender on the field. He recorded three QB hurries, a hit and a batted pass to go along with three tackles. On the 2016 season, the free agent at year's end has 16 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks. Wilkerson has a reputation for making big plays then disappearing for long stretches. But he still needs to be paid attention to at all times, for he can wreck you in a hurry.
DL- No. 99 Steve McLendon
The former Steeler NT landed in New York via free agency after six solid seasons in Pittsburgh. Down 20 pounds, McLendon is quicker and still effective in stuffing the run. He racked up five tackles and two sacks against Cincinnati in the opener, but has only tallied four tackles since. It will be an emotional return for a player who has earned a lot of respect in the Steel City and gaining a lot in the Big Apple.
Other Notable Names to look out for:
HC Todd Bowles, OC Kacy Rogers, DC Bob Sutton, No. 2 K Nick Folk, No. 25 S Calvin Pryor, No. 41 CB Buster Skrine, No. 50 LB Darron Lee, No. 52 David Harris, No. 78 LT Ryan Clady, No. 87 WR Eric Decker, No. 89 KR/PR Jalin Marshall