By Jeremy Hritz
Happy Wednesday, Steelers Nation! With only 3 days until Christmas, I hope all of your shopping is complete and that you are gearing up for an enjoyable holiday season with your family and friends. As the Steelers get ready to ramp up preparations for the best team they face all season in the Kansas City Chiefs, here are my Steelers Study Notes for December 22nd:
- COVID strikes again, and don’t be surprised if the Steelers have their game postponed as Kansas City is dealing with an outbreak. With big names such as Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, in addition to several others to be announced, the likelihood this game gets pushed to a Monday or Tuesday (god, please no Wednesday) becomes greater by the minute. This would create a very short week of preparation for the Steelers next game against the Browns. Hopefully, all stays on course and the game is played on Sunday.
- If the Steelers do somehow get the Chiefs minus Kelce and Hill, sure it will weaken them, but this is still a formidable opponent. Even without those two, if the Steelers play poorly, as they have many times this season, they will get blown out.
- Do the Steelers have a chance against the Chiefs? Sure, there is always a chance, but the sloppy, mediocre brand of football they have been playing will most certainly result in a drubbing against Patrick Mahomes and company. The Steelers will need to play their best game of the year and be prepared to match the Chiefs score for score. Thankfully, for as much love as this Chiefs defense has received in recent weeks, it still can be had, and there will be opportunities for the offense. The bigger question is whether or not the Steelers can take advantage?
- One thing to keep in mind is the success the Steelers defense had against Lamar Jackson earlier this season. I have to think they will employ a similar defense against Mahomes, though he is an exceptionally better passer.
- If I’m the Steelers, I’m shortening this game, and playing ball control with my offense as much as I can. Plenty of runs, complimented by short passes to dominate the time of possession. The Steelers do not want to get into a track meet with the Chiefs, and they have to produce in the running game. Maybe this is the contest where Najee Harris can get something going.
- There’s the Melvin Ingram storyline this week, but, yawn. He’ll make a big play, celebrate, look at the Steelers bench, maybe draw a taunting penalty, and we’ll move on. Thanks for the 6th round pick.
- In case you missed it, Le’Veon Bell signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, that Buccaneers team with Antonio Brown. The Killer Bs are back. Kind of. Good luck with that.
- This late in the season, is there any hope left that the offensive line can improve? They have been below average all year, with minor glimpses of improvement, but nothing sustainable. Kendrick Green has been especially unfortunate, and can’t seem to stay off of the ground or maintain continuity with his blocks. At what point does he get sat down? If we have learned anything this season, it’s that the coaching staff is riding with their starters, good or bad, in hopes that the light comes on.
- I have to say I was super impressed and encouraged with the collective performances of Minkah Fitzpatrick, Cameron Heyward, TJ Watt, and Joe Haden. If these four leaders can build on the momentum established against the Titans, a potential run could be in the waiting. Especially if the turnovers continue to come. Those four are true ballers, gamers, and leaders who are sustaining this defense and giving this team a chance.
- With a win Sunday, Mike Tomlin will extend his streak of non-losing seasons, as will Ben Roethlisberger. While 8 wins may not seem like a big deal, with all of the turnover and youth on this team this season, it’s a small miracle.
That is all for today! Make it a great Wednesday!