The Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 4 matchup pits them against a Houston Texans team that is on the rise. The Texans, led by rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, went into North Florida last week and earned an eye-catching 20-point victory over AFC South favorites the Jacksonville Jaguars.
As for the Steelers, Pittsburgh traveled to Las Vegas to earn a gritty Sunday night victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, giving the team its second consecutive win and vaulting them to the top of the AFC North. The Steelers will travel to Houston this Sunday looking to fill the place with black and gold and hoping to take advantage of a Texans offensive line missing a couple of starters. Here are three bold Steelers Week 4 predictions.
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3) The Pittsburgh secondary will struggle vs. C.J. Stroud
The Steelers had difficulties stopping Jimmy Garoppolo last week, giving up 345 yards in the air to the Raiders QB. Texans quarterback Stroud has been slinging the ball all over the field in the early days of his NFL career. He is fourth in the league in passing attempts and fifth in passing yards. Plus, the rookie has yet to throw an interception.
The Pittsburgh defense has given up a lot of yards this season — the fifth-most in the NFL — but eight turnovers forced and a league-leading QB sacks have made it a respectable unit. The Steeler defense will make plays on Sunday, but the bend-don't-break mentality will give up a lot of yards against a quickly improving Houston passing attack in Week 4.
2) Jaylen Warren will earn more snaps than Najee Harris
Even with some off-season additions to the offensive line, the Steelers running game has failed to get anything going this season. The team currently ranks 30th in the league with 67 rushing yards per game. Running back Harris played just 50% of offensive snaps versus the Raiders, the second-fewest of his career in an injury-free game. Second-year back Jaylen Warren nearly surpassed him with 45% offensive snaps played, the second-most of his short career.
The recent game against Las Vegas was Harris' most productive of the season with 65 rushing yards. But the third-year back still averaged just 3.4 yards per carry, did not have a catch, and did not find the end zone. Warren was more efficient than Harris on the night (3.6 yards/carry) and has been effective in the passing game this season, with 12 catches for 101 yards. His battery mate has just three catches for two yards on the year.
The running game struggles are not entirely Harris' fault, but look for Pittsburgh to turn to Jaylen Warren this week to jump-start this dormant offense.
1) George Pickens will have his breakout game
Through three games, second-year wideout George Pickens is off to a strong start in 2023. He easily leads the team with 239 receiving yards and recorded the second 100-game of his career against the Browns in Week 2. Pickens earned a career-high 10 targets in that contest. Against the Raiders he had a respectable four catches for 75 yards.
That matchup against the Browns was the first time Kenny Pickett had really leaned on Pickens, and it feels like if this offense is going to be successful, it will need to get the ball to its playmakers even more and trust them to make something happen. While the the Texans' secondary is solid, the Steelers will find ways to put the ball in George Pickens' hands.