It's been a rough start for the Steelers, who are 0-4 and coming off of a bye week after losing to the Minnesota Vikings in London. Meanwhile, the Jets have surprised just about everyone, going 3-2 and coming off a big win on Monday Night Football against the Atlanta Falcons.
Both teams have questionable offenses and solid defenses, so don't expect a high-scoring affair. Instead, be ready for a low-scoring, tough and physical game.
Based off what we've seen so far, there are a couple of bold predictions to be made about this Week 6 matchup.
Geno Smith Will Have Another Big Day
The biggest surprise from the Jets' win over the Falcons was how well Geno Smith played. After having eight interceptions and three fumbles through the first four games, Smith played a clean game with zero turnovers against the Falcons. He completed 80 percent of his passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
The numbers this year now look a lot better for Smith. He's completing 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,289 yards and seven touchdowns, not to mention he has three game-winning drives in his first five career starts.
The Steelers defense has been decent, but it hasn't been playing at the same level we're used to seeing from this team. It does fair pretty well against the pass, allowing just 199 yards per game through the air.
However, despite the solid defense in terms of yardage, the Steelers have yet to force a turnover this season, while every other team in the NFL has forced at least two.
Although Smith has had his problems with turnovers this season, he will be going against a team that struggles forcing turnovers. The offense may not be explosive, but Smith will complete a high percentage of his passes and throw a couple of touchdowns for the Jets this week.
Le'Veon Bell Runs for Less than 40 Yards
After finally making his NFL debut against the Vikings, Le'Veon Bell has started to gain a lot of hype around Pittsburgh. He ran for 57 yards and two touchdowns in the loss, giving Steelers fans hope that they can turn around the ground game.
That won't happen this week against the Jets.
The Steelers are currently last in the NFL in rushing, putting up just 58 yards per game on the ground. They're also running for just 3.2 yards per carry, which is 28th in the league.
The Jets have a strong defense against the run, which will make things even worse for Bell. They allow just 76.2 rushing yards per game, which is the second-best mark behind the Denver Broncos. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), they have the league's best run defense with a 43.4 grade. The New York Giants are in a distant second with a grade of just 24.5.
As exciting as Bell is for the Steelers, he's not going to have a fun game against the Jets. Their defense is just too strong, and that will keep the Steelers from getting anything going on the ground.
The Jets Win, and Win Big
At the beginning of the season, this would have seemed like one of the wildest predictions ever.
Now, it makes more sense.
The Jets simply match up well against the Steelers. They rank second in the NFL in total defense, allowing just 299 yards per game. The Steelers struggle to put up points on offense, ranking 29th with just 17.3 points per game.
We talked about how Geno should have a big game, but he also has a solid running back behind him to set up the play action in Bilal Powell.
Powell has been a productive back so far, running for 330 yards and averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The Jets will also likely use Chris Ivory, who put up 27 yards on just four carries last week.
The Steelers do not fare well against the run, ranking 25th in run defense. As a whole, they also struggle to keep opponents off the board, giving up 27.5 points per game.
The Jets just have the advantage pretty much everywhere on the board, and with how much the Steelers have struggled offensively, New York should be able to pull away easily and improve to 4-2 on the year.
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