Can Justin Herbert’s Chargers conquer the Chiefs? Will Saints best Bucs?


This one feels like a bit of a toss-up, and for good reason. The injury bug bit both of these teams in Week 1, although it sounds as if the Patriots managed to escape with a better outlook for their banged-up key player, Mac Jones, than the Steelers did with TJ Watt.

It appears Watt avoided the worst possible outcome with his pectoral injury, but, unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s defense — which was ferocious in the first half of the Steelers’ overtime win over the Bengals — will have to go without the reigning Defensive Player of the Year on Sunday.

Pittsburgh still has standout defensive contributors — Cameron Heyward, Alex Highsmith and Minkah Fitzpatrick all played key roles in Week 1 — who must be salivating at the thought of pressuring Jones — even if he’s “feeling better” from the back spasms he experienced. in the season opener. A week after forcing Joe Burrow to commit a career-high five turnovers, Sunday’s matchup must look like a steak dinner to these Steelers, who are preparing to face a Patriots offense that mustered just seven points in a Week 1 loss to Miami.

I must share a bit of bad news, though: The Steelers haven’t won a game without Watt in the starting lineup (0-4) since he joined the team in 2017.

This one might come down to Pittsburgh’s offense, which was far from perfect last weekend. Making matters worse, Najee Harris is dealing with a foot injury, although he has said he will play on Sunday. If the second-year RB is at less than full strength, Mitch Trubisky will have to account for a larger portion of Pittsburgh’s offense than he did in Week 1. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Trubisky is one of the winningest quarterbacks in games in which his team scores fewer than 24 points (12 wins) since he entered the league in 2017 — second only to Ben Roethlisberger (16).

Trubisky also knows what it’s like to win without a key defensive teammate available: The Bears won both of the starts he made while Khalil Mack was sidelined in 2018. It’s time for Mitch to channel his inner Big Ben.


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