Week five of the NFL season is here, and the Steelers are currently batting .750, but a dangerous opponent comes to Heinz field Sunday at 1pm eastern. Despite their 1-3 record, the New York Jets are talented and capable of beating the Steelers. If the last two weeks give fans any insight into the 2016 version of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the common thread could be that this is a schizophrenic team. Two solid wins to start the season, then they get blown out by 31-points to Philadelphia and then a week later roll over Kansas City. Both of those teams are arguably better than the Jets, so you can see my hesitation to guarantee a win this week. That being said, I do believe the Steelers get this win, but I’ll give you the scenarios that could lead to either a win or a loss this Sunday.
Why the Steelers will win: On defense, win the turnover battle. To accomplish this, I believe defensive coordinator Keith Butler will have to get creative and create confusion for Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has thrown ten interceptions to four touchdowns so far this season. Fitzpatrick is a smart young man who had a career year last season, but has struggled so far this season. That could be due to missing most of the offseason and training camp with his contract holdout, or maybe last year was just a fluke. Either way, he’s made questionable throws and doesn’t seem to have the chemistry with his receivers or the touch he displayed last year. This is good news for a secondary that is still looking for it’s identity and may be missing two or three key components.
On offense, the Steelers need to show the same fortitude and focus that put up six touchdowns against a very good KC defense last week. If Ben, Brown and Bell get off to the same high caliber, fast start they did against the Chiefs (with some short field to work with thanks to the defense), they will put up points in bunches. If it comes to a shootout, I don’t think the Jets can hang with the Steelers, but the Jets have a good pass rush and one of the best corners in their secondary. Sure, Revis Island is not quite the destination it was a few years ago, but Ben can’t sleep on No. 24 in white and green. This means that patchwork offensive line will need to live up to Coach Tomlin’s expectations and give Big Ben time and space and create some room for Bell to run. The Jets have a defensive minded coach and a good front seven. The big men up front need to be solid in order the offense to work like it did against Kansas City.
Why the Jets will win: Defensive assignments and tackling. If the Steelers’ defense, the secondary in particular, are out of position and fail to make tackles against the likes of Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall and Bilal Powell, the Jets offense will be able to move down the field and put up points. Those three offensive weapons can all make defenders miss and are solid in terms of ball security. I believe our defensive line can handle their assignments and will create some havoc on Fitzpatrick and company, but there are a lot of question marks concerning what the linebackers and secondary will look like come kickoff time. The men that do take the field need to be fundamentally sound and focused if they’re going to have any chance of forcing turnovers, three-and-outs and creating short fields for their offensive counterparts to work with.
The bottom line is this; the New York Jets will win more than one game this season. In order to move to 4-1 on the season, the Steelers can not have another let down game (especially against a team with a losing record). This week is not the time for the Jets to get their confidence back. The Steelers are in the drivers seat of a very powerful machine. The coaching staff and the personnel on the field need to keep their foot on the gas and propel this team forward. If they can stay the course they started weeks one and two and resumed in week four, they can beat the Jets and beat them by multiple scores. If the Steelers don’t take the Jets seriously, they will fail.