The Pittsburgh Steelers are 17-4 all-time against the New York Jets.
That’s an impressive winning percentage of .810.
Even more impressive is the fact that the Steelers have protected home turf nearly 100 percent of the time against the Jets, losing just once in nine contests – including a pair of playoff game wins within the past decade.
However, the Jets scored more points in Week 1 (48) than any other team in the league.
The Steelers, meanwhile, got carved up by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
Something has to give in the Week 2 matchup at Heinz Field.
Here are Three Bold Predictions for Sunday’s game between the Steelers (0-1) and the Jets (1-0):
- The Steelers' D will turn Mark Sanchez into the old Mark Sanchez
The Jets didn’t even need any Tim Tebow heroics in Week 1. Sanchez was efficient (completing 70.4 percent of his passes) and he produced (three TDs to only one INT). But that was against Buffalo.
While Sanchez certainly wasn’t bad the past two times he faced Pittsburgh (once in the regular season and once in the playoffs in 2010), he wasn’t spectacular either. He completed 63 percent of his passes on those games combined, for 403 yards and two TDs. His Y/A was an average 6.5.
He will need to do much better to beat the Steelers at their home on Sunday – and he won’t. The Steelers will be fired up after failing to stop Manning last week. They’ll have free safety Ryan Clark back, and they may even have linebacker James Harrison back.
The Steelers will limit Sanchez to 200 passing yards and one TD, and force at least one turnover. Robert Malone will be punting a lot more than the two times he did in Week 1. The Steelers' D may even end up seeing Tebow at quarterback at some point in the game.
- The Steelers will out-gain the Jets by at least 100 yards
With one game under their belts, expect Todd Haley’s offense to be much improved. Ben Roethlisberger will continue to find tight end Heath Miller; wide receiver Mike Wallace, who ended his holdout just before the season started, will be a bigger factor as well.
Those two, plus Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, will cause a headache for a Jets D that will be without All-World cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Although Pittsburgh did not have a good ground game in Week 1, with 75 total yards, expect that number to improve on Sunday.
Jonathan Dwyer, who averaged 4.8 YPC against Denver, should get more opportunities against the Jets. Also look for Haley to find more ways to get the ball to speedy rookie Chris Rainey.
- Jets will not hit 20
The Jets have never scored more than 24 points against the Steelers, in 21 games. In fact, in eight of those games, the Jets have been held to single-digits, and the Jets have reached 20 points just four times. It will not happen on Sunday.
Recent games between these teams have been close. The last four contests have been decided by a total of 16 points. While the Steelers probably won’t jump out to a 24-3 lead like they did in the 2010 AFC Championship Game, they will control this game throughout.
They will control the ball like they did against Denver (where they held the ball for 35 minutes), they will force some turnover (something they were unable to do in 2011), and they will win -- Steelers 26, Jets 13
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