The Pittsburgh Steelers pulled out an improbable win Sunday vs the rival Baltimore Ravens, 20-19. The game down to the wire, with the Ravens missing a two-point conversion with only seconds remaining to seal the win for Pittsburgh. The win kept the Steelers hopes of a division title alive, and firmly placed them into the wild card conversation as well.
They are now 6-5-1, with a tie coming against the Detroit Lions last month. That places them into the #8 seed in the AFC Standings. The tie could end up being a major factor in whether the Steelers make or miss the playoffs. But just when this team has been counted out this season, they surprise you.
For more insight on the Steelers’ Week 14 matchup against the Vikings, listen below:
With the injuries the team has sustained, and the struggles of Ben Roethlisberger, it’s amazing that Mike Tomlin has kept this team in the playoff hunt. He looks to pull another rabbit out of his hat this week against the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football.
Here are 4 bold predictions for the Steelers in that game.
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Steelers Week 14 Predictions vs Vikings
4. Steelers running back najee harris will rush for over 100 yards and a touchdown
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris is having a very good rookie season. He has rushed for 779 yards and five rushing touchdowns. He has even been better than expected catching passes, reeling in 57 passes for 387 yards and two more scores. Harris is a big, powerful back, but is also more elusive than most realize.
Najee Harris: 60 missed tackles forced this season
Most in the NFL 💪
📸: @steelers pic.twitter.com/hHHOjwxKRD
— PFF (@PFF) December 2, 2021
Harris has hit a bit of a lull the last three games, failing to top 71 yards on the ground in any of them. He looks to get back on track this week against a porous Vikings run defense.
Minnesota ranks 29th in the NFL against the run, allowing over 131 yards per game.
Ben Roethlisberger appears to have limitations at this point in his career. That gives head coach Mike Tomlin even more reason to run the ball this week. Expect a heavy dose of Harris Thursday night.
3. The Pittsburgh defense will finally take the ball away
The Steelers are one of the worst teams in the league at creating turnovers. They have only taken the ball away 11 times. That’s tied for 28th in the league. Meanwhile, the Vikings have the least giveaways in the NFL with only nine.
Under normal circumstances, I would not have this take. But these are not normal circumstances. The Vikings will probably be without their All Pro running back Dalvin Cook. He sustained a shoulder injury in Week 12’s loss to San Francisco.
Last week, the Vikings also saw Pro Bowl wide receiver Adam Thielen roll his ankle. Thielen is reportedly dealing wit a high ankle sprain, making him doubtful to play Thursday. Without two of the their top weapons, Kirk Cousins might force the ball a bit too much to Justin Jefferson.
The Steelers are not great against the run, but are still formidable against passing games. Kirk Cousins is overdue for an interception and I think it comes this week.
2. Chase Claypool will be an after-thought to the offense
Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool has been battling a severe turf toe for almost a month. It already caused him to miss the Week 10 tie vs the Detroit Lions. The three games after that, he logged almost 90% of the offensive snaps. That was a sign he had got past the injury.
But in the win vs the Ravens, he logged only 63% of Pittsburgh’s offensive snaps. That appears to be signal that the toe injury is getting worse. Claypool missed practice Monday with the foot injury but returned on Tuesday. He will probably suit up, but just might not be a big part of the offensive game plan.
Claypool drew a season-low three targets in the win over Baltimore. Meanwhile, Dionte Johnson had his best game of the season. Johnson caught eight passes for 105 yards and two receiving touchdowns.
Dionte Johnson reminds me of AB. Insane change of direction, stop start speed. I’d love for him to put 10 lbs of muscle on this off-season. Maybe throwing ottomans up onto a balcony. pic.twitter.com/t9XVwnU6BZ
— Bill Crawford (@dveBillCrawford) December 6, 2021
Johnson has taken a giant leap forward this season, leading the team in receptions and receiving yards. I would expect Johnson and Harris out of the backfield to continue to dominate targets this week.
1. Steelers get a comeback win on the road vs the Vikings
Both teams have been banged up this season and are in tough playoff races. Pittsburgh is on the cusp of a wild card berth, the same for Minnesota. But this Vikings team has a propensity for taking and blowing leads.
Of the Vikings 12 games this season, 11 of them have been decided by one possession. That’s the most in the NFL. They can score, but also can be scored on. If the game is close late, which it more than likely will be, I look for Mike Tomlin and the more veteran Steelers to make the play need to win the game.