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5 Burning Questions: Steelers vs. Seahawks

The Pittsburgh Steelers head into Sunday Night Football with a chance to put this season back in the right direction.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football in what could be the turning point of the season.

At 2-3, the Steelers are looking to head into the bye week with a .500 record and begin preparing for the Cleveland Browns. While thinking of the future is optimistic, there's still questions within this team.

These five will be answered in Week 6.

Can the Steelers force multiple turnovers?

The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has been solid throughout the season so far. The one aspect missing from their performance? Turnovers. While they did come away with a big interception on the Denver Broncos' final drive last week, those takeaways have been few and far between. Through the first five weeks of the season, the unit has forced just 4 turnovers which ranks 22nd in the league. This week, they'll face Geno Smith who is making his first start since the 2017 season. All of this sounds like a perfect recipe for a guy like Minkah Fitzpatrick to tally his first interception since week 10 of last season. 

How much does the Steelers offense change without JuJu Smith-Schuster? 

The Steelers were able to break their three-game losing streak last week, but it wasn't without a cost. They lost their longest-tenured and most experienced slot receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster, in the process to a season-ending shoulder injury. So, who's up next in the slot? Ray-Ray McCloud saw extended snaps when Smith-Schuster exited week three's contest against the Cincinnati Bengals. Could we see more 12 personnel on the field with the Steelers opting to use both Pat Freiermuth and Eric Ebron in the game at the same time? Ebron has seen his role dramatically reduced this season and has struggled in the limited time that he has been on the field. Will the Steelers rotate Chase Claypool in the slot, occasionally? Claypool certainly has the frame to hold up over the middle of the field, and it could be an opportunity to get him matched up on safeties and linebackers, too. Claypool's two biggest plays in week five against the Denver Broncos came while working in the slot.

Will the Steelers be able to neutralize DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett? 

While the Seahawks will be without their star quarterback Russell Wilson, they still have one of the best receiver duos in the game at their disposal on Sunday night. Metcalf is one of the premier field stretchers that the league has seen in recent years, a perfect match for Wilson, who loves to throw the deep ball. Lockett is more of the pure route runner mold. He's a tough assignment for any cornerback. It will be interesting to see if the Steelers play more two-deep safety looks to prevent the Seahawks from creating those splash plays down the field. That does mean that Seattle could have an advantage in the box numbers, but without Chris Carson this week, it might be worth the gamble for Keith Butler and the Steelers defense. 

Does the offensive line continue on their upwards trajectory? 

The Steelers ground game has seen some big improvements over the last two weeks, largely due to the Steelers' offensive line. Najee Harris is coming off of his best day as a runner after accumulating his first career 100 rushing day last week against the Denver Broncos. In the past two weeks, Harris is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, a significant improvement from the 3.1 YPC number over the first three weeks of the season. Not only that, the Steelers' offensive line did a nice job of keeping Ben Roethlisberger mostly clean last week, only allowing two hits and a handful of pressures. Both Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor had their best performances as pros last week, hopefully signaling signs of things to come. 

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Is this a must win on Sunday Night Football? 

The term must-win has become one of the most overused phrases in all of sports, without a doubt. With that being said, the 2-3 Pittsburgh Steelers should win this football game. You never like to see injuries to anyone in the sport, but this team needs to take advantage of this opportunity to face a Seattle Seahawks team without their best player in Russell Wilson. 

Geno Smith is a veteran, former first-round pick, who's been around the league a long time, but there's a big drop-off between the two, obviously. It's going to be tough for the Seahawks to lean on their running game without Chris Carson, although Alex Collins is a proven runner. 

The biggest advantage that the Steelers might have is their receivers against the Seahawks corners. Seattle released one of their starters in Tre Flowers earlier in the week. The guys left on the boundary are D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones. Neither of those guys can cover Diontae Johnson (or Chase Claypool, for that matter) one on one. Expect to see Ben Roethlisberger try to exploit that matchup early and often. 

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