The 5: Steelers to watch in Week 17 versus the Seahawks

The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) travel to face the Seattle Seahawks (8-7) at Lumen Field on Sunday, December 31st. The Steelers are in a must-win situation to keep their playoff hopes alive against an NFC opponent with similar aspirations.

Ahead of this game, we look at five Pittsburgh Steelers players to watch in the match with the Seahawks.

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Mason Rudolph

The butt of many jokes around the ‘Burgh for years, the former 2018 third-round pick – and long-time backup to future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger – put those jokes to rest last Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers offense finally looked competent, putting up their most points in a 34-11 route of their division rival.

In that game, Rudolph tossed two touchdown passes while completing 63% of his throws for 290 yards: a 124 rating and the best outing of any Steelers quarterback going back to the 2021 season.

While head coach Mike Tomlin wasn’t 100% committed to Rudolph as the starter (seeing how Kenny Pickett would progress this week coming back from injury) it would appear that Mason “has the ball” again to start the week and is likely the starter as the team travels to Seattle.

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George Pickens

Another byproduct of Rudolph’s standout performance was that of George Pickens’ game, where the second-year receiver posted 195 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

A week after being the focal point of ridicule and criticism for his “effort”, Pickens silenced his opponents and now has the first 1,000-yard receiving season in Pittsburgh since Diontae Johnson (1,161) back in 2021.

Watch for Pickens to continue his upward trend should Rudolph continue to deliver the ball on schedule against a banged-up Seahawks secondary which may feature former Steeler Artie Burns in a prominent role on Sunday.

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Najee Harris & Jaylen Warren

While they have cooled off in recent games, don’t expect the Steelers to not recognize the Seahawks inability to stop the run. They currently allow the 29th-most yards-per-game on the ground to opponents which could open the door for this pair of Pittsburgh rushers who are the only pair of AFC running back teammates each with 950+ yards from scrimmage this season.

Harris leads the team with 801 yards rushing while Warren has 676 on the season. Both are primed to top 1,000 yards from scrimmage and become the first Steelers duo to do so since the days of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier.

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T.J. Watt

The frothing at the mouth has commenced around the Internet, with those vocal enough that T.J. Watt should be the league’s defensive MVP once again in 2023.

Watt leads all players with 17 sacks heading into Sunday’s contest. He’s also tied for most QB hits (33) and is in the top five for tackles-for-loss. Watt also has eight passes defensed and four forces fumbles (three recovered) plus a defensive touchdown.

Everyone should be on “Watt watch” through these final two games as he faces mobile quarterbacks such as Geno Smith and Lamar Jackson.

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