While the Steelers aren’t a juggernaut this season, they’ve pulled out wins in close games. All four of their wins were by one possession, but their two losses were by 23 and 24 points.
Pittsburgh hasn’t been fully healthy for much of the season, and some of the players are still banged up, but the Steelers have still found ways to win games.
Here are five Steelers players who could cause problems for the Jaguars in their Week 8 matchup:
Wide receiver George Pickens might be the most gifted offensive player on the Steelers. He has an elite ability to catch 50/50 balls, and he’s a big play waiting to happen.
Pickens has been the featured receiver this season, hauling in 27 catches for 500 yards and two touchdowns so far.
Pickens was a former teammate of Jaguars cornerback Tyson Campbell when they were at Georgia, so they are familiar with each other’s games. And Campbell is currently working his way back from a hamstring injury.
If Campbell isn’t good to go, Pickens could see more reps against Darious Williams, who’s 6 inches shorter than the Pittsburgh receiver.
CB Diontae Johnson
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson has been the Steelers’ most consistent offensive player through the past few years, but he hasn’t played much this season due to injury.
After recently returning from a hamstring injury in Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams, Johnson is back on the injury report with another hamstring injury. Johnson’s availability Sunday is in doubt, but if he plays, the Jaguars will face a productive receiver who often succeeds in creating separation.
Johnson has only eight catches for 127 yards through two games this year. However, he’s had three 800-yard seasons, including a 1,161-yard effort in 2021.
OLB T.J. Watt
T.J. Watt is one of the most talented and proven defensive players in the NFL. Watt has been among the elite pass rushers in the league since his sophomore campaign in 2018.
He won Defensive Player of the Year with 22.5 sacks in 2021 and already has eight sacks and two forced fumbles in 2023.
Watt will have the opportunity to face rookie Jaguars tackle Anton Harrison in Week 8. While Harrison has had some decent performances, he’s played many talented defensive lineman, and Watt is arguably the best.
OLB Alex Highsmith
If the Jaguars weren’t already going to have trouble slowing Watt, the Steelers also have linebacker Alex Highsmith.
The linebacker burst onto the scene last year, proving himself an extremely talented pass rusher. He only has two sacks so far this season, but he’s also forced two fumbles and has an interception.
Highsmith might not be on pace to surpass his 2022 sack total, but his 87.3 Pro Football Focus grade — which is almost 10 percentage points higher than his 2022 grade — shows he’s still a highly effective player.
Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is one of the best possible pairings with Pittsburgh’s elite pass rush. While Watt and Highsmith are getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, Fitzpatrick is able to contribute to the secondary in a number of ways.
He’s talented in coverage and is physical enough to prevent big plays. He doesn’t have an interception yet this season, but he’s got 52 total tackles and two deflected passes.
While he hasn’t been as much of a hawk as previous years, his six-interception 2022 season shows he’s never too far from the ball.