The Pittsburgh Steelers Week 10 matchup against the New Orleans Saints will definitely be highly anticipated after they just returned from their bye week. Anyone who follows the NFL knows that the 2022 season has been difficult for the Steelers, who are presently last in the AFC North with a 2-6 record.
But head coach Mike Tomlin will try to make changes and get this team back on track in Week 10 after a devastating Week 8 loss to the unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles. Following a humiliating loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night in Week 9, the 3-6 Saints are currently in third place in the NFC South.
Therefore, the outcome of this Steelers-Saints game will be crucial for both teams’ chances of making the playoffs. Here are our three audacious predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 10 matchup with the Saints.
3. Linebacker Tj Watt Returns with A Vengeance, Records Two Sacks
The return of All-Pro linebacker TJ Watt is one of the greatest storylines in this game, assuming he is given the all-clear to play. Although he briefly practised prior to Week 8, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year has not played since Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a torn pectoral muscle. He’d be a great assistance to this defensive unit, too.
According to Pro Football Reference, without Watt on the field, the Steelers defence has given up the ninth-most overall yards to opposing offences (3161) and fifth-fewest sacks (15) among all NFL teams in 2022.
We’re talking about a man in Watt who has recorded 38.5 sacks in 31 games since 2020, despite the Saints’ offensive line being eleventh best in sack percentage this season (5.7%). For those who enjoy arithmetic, that works out to 1.24 sacks per game over the previous three seasons. Andy Dalton, the quarterback for the Saints, will have to keep his eyes open on Sunday if Watt starts for the Steelers.
2. Jaylen Warren Out-Touches Najee Harris and Leads the Steelers’ Backfield on The Box Score
In 2022, the Steelers’ rushing assault has been a dismal failure and a far cry from the team’s identity, to put it simply. The Steelers are ranked sixth-worst by Pro Football Reference in terms of rushing yards per game (94.9), second-worst in terms of rushing touchdowns (four), and fourth-worst in terms of overall rushing yards (759).
Even with Pittsburgh’s terrible offensive line, starter running back Najee Harris must take some responsibility for his subpar season. In terms of overall player yards per game (45.1) and running yards (361), Harris is ranked 34th in the NFL. Yes, there are four quarterbacks with more rushing yards than Alabama running back in his second season.
However, rumours that the young running back Jaylen Warren would soon play a bigger part make this situation quite intriguing. Warren is averaging exactly two more yards per run (5.3) than Harris (3.3), and at times this season, he has displayed explosiveness out of the backfield.
It would be a bit premature to say Harris has officially lost his starting position, and that was not the goal of this forecast. However, it makes sense to see what the former Oklahoma State player is capable of against the Saint’s defence, which has allowed 1088 rushing yards to opposing teams this season, which ranked tenth overall. Warren also stands a good chance of succeeding and establishing a committee in the Steelers’ backfield.
1. George Pickens pops off for 100+ receiving yards
Following the trade of Chase Claypool, the wide receiver room was previously congested, therefore the rookie first-round pick out of Georgia now serves as the WR2 to colleague Diontae Johnson. Pickens and fellow rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett have developed a great bond, and the Saints game will be his chance to shine.
Pickens has the fifth-most receiving yards (338), receptions (26) and targets (43) among all rookie wideouts in 2022, according to Stathead. Although these numbers aren’t particularly impressive, it’s important to note that 273 of Pickens’ 338 yards (or 80.77%) have come since Pickett took over as the starter against the New York Jets in Week 4. These figures suggest that Pickens is Pickett’s favoured target in the Steelers’ offence.
The Saint’s defence, which has given up the 14th-fewest overall passing yards this season, won’t give in to a rookie quarterback. That being said, it is obvious how effective the Pickett-To-Pickens combination is, and Pickens is ready to take off and become a star in the NFL with a bigger role in the offence.