If there's one team in the AFC that the Jets have struggled against throughout their entire history, it's the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Gang Green is 5-18 (4-10 at home) all-time against Pittsburgh. The Jets also lost the last game between the two teams, 31-13 in 2016. This trend might continue this Sunday when Adam Gase's Jets (5-9) take on the Steelers (8-6) who are fighting for a playoff spot.
Pittsburgh, as it's always been the case, brings top notch defense ranked 4th in the league. They are 5th best against the pass and 11th against the run. It's well known that the Gang Green's offensive line is arguably their Achilles' heel. They will have their hands full on Sunday, as they will be facing the defense that has recorded 49 sacks in 14 games (tied for 1st in the NFL). Three Pittsburgh's defenders have more sacks than LB Jordan Jenkins, who leads the Gang Green with 7.0 sacks. Pittsburgh's TJ Watt has 13.0 sacks, Bud Dupree has 9.5 and Cameron Hayward has 8.0.
The Steelers have struggled on offense as much as the Jets. They are ranked 30th in total offense (the Jets are one spot below). Pittsburgh's passing attack is ranked 31st, while their running game is 26th. Gregg Williams' defense should have plenty of chances to make big plays and it will be the key for the Jets to stay competitive in this contest. S Jamal Adams, the only Pro Bowler on Adam Gase's team, is expected to be back in the lineup after missing previous two games. He needs just 1.5 sacks to tie the NFL record for defensive backs.
The Steelers are favored by 3 points, so bookmakers are expecting a pretty tight contest, which is not surprising, as most Pittsburgh's games are decided by 6 points or less. There are also many other bet types on this game. The Jets are even to score first. Other attractive wagers, especially with a NJ online casino bonus code, are the Jets opening the score with a passing touchdown (+400) or with a rushing touchdown (+850). If Gase's offense goes back to their opening drive scoring ways, these two bets will definitely bring a nice payout.
This will also be a special game for RB Le'Veon Bell, who will be facing his former team for the first time in his career. Bell spent first five seasons with the Steelers, then held out for one year over a contract dispute, and finally signed with the Jets before this season. He has looked nothing like the Le'Veon Bell of old, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry, which is exactly one yard per carry below his average with the Steelers.
Bell has run for 676 yards and scored only 3 rushing touchdowns in 13 games this season. The only time he scored so few touchdowns on the ground with the Steelers was in 2015 when he played in only 6 games. Bell did have his best of the season last week against the Ravens. He gained 87 yards (season high) on 21 carries. If that was a sign of a late season turnaround, then we might see a different Le'Veon Bell on Sunday. He should also be especially motivated to star against his former team.
In the battle of the quarterbacks, Sam Darnold will be facing off against rookie Devlin Hodges. Hodges replaced struggling Mason Rudolph in the last three games and won the first two. Last week he threw four interceptions in the loss against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills also sacked him four times and forced a fumble. Darnold played pretty well against the Ravens (6th best defense in the league) and will be given another huge task, facing the defense that's been allowing only 204 yards per game in the air.
Staying mistake free, pounding the ball on the ground and unleashing the defense against Pittsburgh's rookie signal caller are going to be the keys to upsetting the Steelers. This game is going to be won on defense on either side.
Interesting Jets vs. Steelers facts:
- No Jets quarterback ever had a 300-yard game against the Steelers
- Ryan Fitzpatrick holds the Gang Green's single game passing record against Pittsburgh - 255 yards in 2016
- Curtis Martin holds the Jets' single game rushing record against the Steelers. He ran for 174 yards in 2003
- Lam Jones holds the single game receiving record. He caught 7 passes for 146 yards in 1983
- Longest Jets passing play against Pittsburgh belongs to Michael Vick. He completed a 67-yard pass to T.J. Graham in 2014
- Mark Sanchez is the last Jets' quarterback who had a 100+ QB rating against Pittsburgh. In the 2011 playoffs Sanchez completed 20 of 33, 2 TD, 0 INT, QB rating of 102.2
- Thomas Jones is the last Jets' running back who rushed for over 100 yards against the Steelers. He gained 117 yards in 2007.
- The Steelers never scored a special teams return touchdown against the Jets
- Brad Smith returned a kickoff for 97 yards against the Steelers in 2010.