It’ll be a short week for the Black and Gold as they come off of a disappointing Monday night performance versus the Ravens. This Sunday the Saints will be in Pittsburgh for another AFC North matchup against the Steelers. Here are five things to look out for:
1) SAINTS PASS PROTECTION:
Pittsburgh’s TJ Watt is a premier pass rusher who has put up at least 13 sacks each season since 2018, including a 22.5 sack season in 2021. Watt is going o to make his return from a knee and pectoral injury that has sidelined him since week one. Cameron Heyward is another Steeler that can wreak havoc in the backfield on Sunday. The offensive of the Saints have been serviceable with the quarterbacks holding onto the ball too long at times that have led to significant losses of yardage.
2) OFFENSIVE LINE SHUFFLING:
Continuing with the line protecting Andy Dalton, there will likely be a couple of changes as center Erik McCoy was last spotted in a walking boot. If he’s unable to go, Right Guard Cesar Ruiz would probably shift to the left with another lineman like Calvin Throckmorton to fill Ruiz’s spot. This would be similar to what we saw Monday night.
3) TAYSOM HILL’S ROLE:
Taysom Hill is the most unique player in the league with a special role in the Saints offense. There have been games where he’s been heavily involved that have led to team production and wins like the game versus the Seahawks. Then there are times like the Ravens game where he ran and threw once each. In that game, the first touchdown for New Orleans didn’t occur until it was too late to come back. Heavy touches for Hill seem almost necessary if the Saints want to win right now.
4) KENNY PICKETT RESPONSE TO PRESSURE:
The Saints’ defensive line has struggled against running quarterbacks which has led to explosive plays for opposing offenses. Kenny Pickett is athletic, but not on the level of the Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts’ of the world. If the front seven of the Black and Gold can get to the rookie early, it may lead to turnovers and a lack of rhythm for the Steelers’ offense.
5) SAINTS ROOKIES:
Chris Olave has been a stud so far this year and has gotten meaningful reps all season. He’s also dealt with the burden of having to be a top two throwing option with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry being out for a majority of the season. On defense, Alontae Taylor has picked up more work on the field lately due to Marshon Lattimore being out. The former Tennessee Volunteer will have some good assignments between veteran receiver Diontae Johnson and fellow rookie George Pickens who are still trying to gel with Pickett.
The kickoff is scheduled for Sunday at 12:00 p.m.