Bold Predictions: Steelers rebound on offense, grab needed win over Jets

‘Bold Predictions’ is Steel City Underground’s feature where our SCU team members have shifted from throwing caution to the wind in how crazy they’ll go in their prognostications to a more objective, yet still bold, set of predictions on how Pittsburgh will, or will not, handle business this week.

This Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6) will be on the road against the New York Jets (5-9). Against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, the Steelers had some spectacular moments and some big letdowns. They can’t afford that in Week 16 of the 2019-20 NFL regular season if they hope to keep their playoff hopes alive. Every week, ‘Team SCU’ talks in the backrooms about roster news and possible scenarios. This week there has been a lot of chatter about whether the Steelers should make a change at quarterback – from Devlin Hodges to Mason Rudolph – or not, among other hot topics Steelers Nation has brought up on social media. This week’s predictions include some from Steelers fans, so let’s get to them.

Here We Go!

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A quick look back at last week’s predictions

Derek was very optimistic that the fact that Mike Tomlin has been a hot coach during primetime games and the Steelers have been outstanding in their Color Rush jerseys, his prediction that Hodges and the offense would play with a short field and grab three touchdowns just never came to fruition. T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree did get after Bills quarterback Josh Allen even though Dupree came short on earning a sack. Watt earned 0.5 sacks (split with Vince Williams), had one pass defensed, and two tackles for a loss. Devin Bush also earned two tackles for a loss while Steven Nelson grabbed an interception.

Terry saw Hodges’ PFF quarterback rating of 103 and his 71 percent completion rating and was sold that he would be “must-see TV”. She predicted two passing touchdowns. Unfortunately, Hodges finished the game completing 23-of-38 passes for 202 yards and one touchdown to four interceptions. Two of those interceptions came on plays that were questionably called from the sidelines in an attempt to come back for the win and, in all actuality, looked like desperation. With some issues along the offensive line in preventing pressure on Hodges, the rookie quarterback looked less than stellar but part of that should be attributed to the fact that the run game was almost completely abandoned despite having five healthy running backs to choose from.

Brian, who went absolutely insane with his predictions – “The defense feasts. 7 sacks of Josh Allen, 2 INT’s and a fumble recovery. How’s that for bold?!” – was so unhappy after the game ended with the Bills grabbing a 17-10 win at Heinz Field that he had to take some late-night time off before recording the post-game podcast with Joe.

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This week’s bold predictions

Brian mentioned in the pregame podcast with Joe that he agreed (with my assessment, at that) that it’s not the right time in the season for the Steelers to once again trot out another quarterback to start the Week 16 game (and assorted other items of note, so go check it out).

Christina Rivers: Hodges has been named the starter and my reasoning for why this is a smart move on the part of Pittsburgh’s coaching staff is that every time a quarterback change is made, there are several adjustments that have to be made to the rest of the offense; not only does the offensive line have to adjust their protection and blocking schemes but each quarterback has a unique cadence (which is not something you want to mess up on the road), has different release timing, differs in level of mobility (in the pocket versus out of the pocket), and play more under center versus in the shotgun position. Also, with the addition of Amara Darboh to the wide receiving corps as Tevin Jones moved on to the Dallas Cowboys, there are timing and communication considerations in play as well.

As for predictions, I feel that Hodges will make a comeback and put himself in the driver’s seat to redeem himself this week. And I think an extra week of working out any kinks with snapping the ball between him and Maurkice Pouncey should show improvement. I also feel strongly that the Steelers will look to establish the run game (early) and learned a lesson that putting Hodges in a hole and asking for a miracle ‘hail mary’ type pass play won’t be necessary.

Derek Overly: I predicted this last week and fell short, but I feel so strongly that this offense is on the brink of something big. It’s not going to play at an elite level, but it has potential. So I’m reviving my prediction that “Duck” throws three touchdowns against the Jets in a blowout victory. Short, sweet, and simple this week. Let’s go!

Ben Beberman: My bold prediction is on offense as “Duck” redeems himself with 250 yards and 2 TDs (passing). James Conner has 150 yards total. Also, Diontae Johnson has a 100-yard game as well. On Defense, Minkah Fitzpatrick gets another interception and the defense gets at least 5 sacks and holds Le’Veon Bell to under 100 total yards.

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Joe Kuzma: The Steelers offense finally gets on track this season, easily score 20+ points while the defense doesn’t give up a single touchdown and stuff Le’Veon Bell for less than 60 yards rushing and well under 100 all-purpose yards in the big “return match” since the running back left Pittsburgh.


In a separate Twitter poll, Steelers fans were asked the following: “What group gives you the most concern on the offensive side of the ball heading into the Jets game?” As of the writing of this article, 64.8 percent of fans said “Quarterbacks”, 13.8 percent said “Receivers”, 6.9 percent said running backs, and 14.5 percent said “Offensive Line”.

One fan (@MoSteel79 on Twitter) responded that “playcalling” was their biggest concern about the Steelers offense. Expanding on that, it was a lack of faith in offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner. “Not sure why [the Steelers] don’t commit to the run more and what happened to TE in pass game?” was the response. “Hope they prove us wrong this week.” My interpretation of the hopes of proving Steelers fans wrong was that this fan hoped that Pittsburgh would find a way to establish the run and get the tight ends more involved and find a way to win despite issues they’ve had on offense, including some playcalling that has, at times, been highly questionable.

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