Week 10 is nearly upon us, only a few days away now, and with that, we have what is practically the final stand for the New Orleans Saints (3-6), who take on the 2-6 Pittsburgh Steelers in Acrisure Stadium. This seems like one of, if not the final chance for the Saints to get back on track and at least finish near .500 this season, as 3-7 is basically a death sentence, especially losing to a team that has struggled so mightily. We will see how it pans out, but with that, in this article, we will cover how the Saints’ run defense and Steelers’ run offense have performed so far this season, and then how we expect them to perform against each other this Sunday. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
How have these two units performed so far?
Starting off with the Saints’ rushing defense, it has been very wishy-washy so far this season. Sometimes you see games as they had against the Las Vegas Raiders where they nearly shut Josh Jacobs off the map, and then other games where Eno Benjamin has 92 rushing yards and a touchdown against them. Currently, the Saints run defense has allowed the 11th most rushing yards (1,088), the 16th highest yards per carry (4.5), are tied for the 11th most rushing touchdowns allowed (9), they have allowed the 14th most rushing first downs (60) but have also seen the 11th most rush attempts against them (241). One of the only positive stats in the Saints’ favor on run defense is first down percentage on rushing downs, where they have held opponents to the 11th lowest percentage (24.9%).
On the other side of the ball, the Steelers’ rushing offense has been absolutely atrocious, ranking bottom 10 and bottom 5 in many of the common stats for rushers. They rank 4th to last in rushing yards (759), T-6th lowest yards per carry (4.0), T-5th lowest rushing touchdowns (4), have a longest rush of 19 yards on the season (T-2nd shortest), T-6th least rushing first downs (44), and the 11th lowest rushing first down conversion rate (23.2%). This is all on 190 rushing attempts (7th least) so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but it is still worth noting.
How will these units stack up against each other?
Well, on paper, the Saints have the advantage in this department as they have been around league average in most statistics, while the Steelers have been very poor at running the ball all season. It has been an enormously tough season for sophomore halfback Najee Harris, who has only 361 rushing yards over halfway through the season (on 108 touches, 3.3 YPC).
This is a great chance for the Saints’ run defense to recuperate after a tough matchup against Lamar Jackson and allowing Kenyan Drake to gash them in the second half. Najee is a big body, which does not bode exceptionally well against a Saints’ defense that has missed a lot of tackles. However, as long as they can get a few bodies into his running lane, it should be a matchup heavily in favor of New Orleans.