Amazingly, Ben Roethlisberger has thrown six touchdown passes in each of the Steelers’ past two games. On Sunday, against the Jets’ sieve-like defensive backfield (my apologies to sieves everywhere for the comparison), he may well throw six in each half.
The 6-3 Steelers come into MetLife Stadium with Big Ben quite possibly playing the best football of his career -- and his favorite target, Antonio Brown, playing about as well as any receiver ever has. The numbers Brown has put up (71 catches, 996 yards, 8 TDs) are very solid -- for a 16-game slate. Considering the third-year WR still has seven games left to play, they’re nothing short of astronomical.
Nobody has stopped Brown yet this year -- he hasn’t had less than five catches or 80 yards in any contest -- and the idea of the home team doing so would be laughable, if only it was even the slightest bit conceivable.
And that’s not all. Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell is enjoying the best 2014 campaign of any running back not named DeMarco Murray.
Do you think the Steelers -- and the NFL -- would look unkindly on a Jets forfeit?
The good news for the Jets -- seriously, there actually is some -- is that the visitors aren’t very good on the other side of the ball. Pittsburgh has been vulnerable against both the run and the pass, and has held only one team under 19 points so far. That team was the Jacksonville Jaguars, who would be challenged to put up double-digits versus a good Pop Warner squad.
Plus, the Steelers D comes limping into the game missing several key players, including safety Troy Polamalu, who suffered a sprained knee in last week’s 43-23 win over the Ravens. Another Steeler stalwart, though, has given the defense a much-needed shot in the arm. Thirty-six-year-old James Harrison came out of a retirement a few weeks back, giving Pittsburgh the pass rusher it was sorely lacking. Harrison racked up four sacks over the past two weeks. No other Steeler defender has more than three over the course of the season.
Ineffective though the Steelers D may be, Michael Vick and company will be hard-pressed to outscore Pittsburgh’s offensive machine. Now tied for the AFC Central lead with the unlikely Browns and with the Ravens and Bengals both within one game of the top spot, the Steelers have a lot to play for. The Jets, meanwhile, are playing for the first pick in the 2015 draft. They should get closer to that goal on Sunday.