Analysis

NFL overreactions, Week 14: Steelers' offense is falling apart!

NFL Media researcher Brandon Mendoza identifies several of the biggest overreactions from each week's set of games. The storylines below are bound to play out because, after all, numbers never lie. Right?

NOTE: All stats and rankings are current through Sunday of Week 14.

The Steelers' offense has been exposed!

The Steelers' offense is a mess. This was easy to overlook when they were winning, but after two straight losses in Weeks 13 and 14, it's time to talk about it.

The Steelers have scored fewer than 20 points in three straight games. Only the 2-10-1 Bengals have a longer active streak of such low output (five games). In the first 11 weeks, the Steelers averaged 29.8 points per game, the fourth-best mark in the NFL. Since Week 12, that number has dropped to 17.0 points per game, tied for fifth-fewest in the NFL during that span.

So what's going on? Well, the Steelers struggle mightily to run the ball; their rushing average of 89.1 yards per game this season is second-worst, better than only the Texans (86.2). Keep in mind, no Super Bowl winner has ever averaged 89.1 rushing yards per game or less.

Secondly, Ben Roethlisberger seemingly cannot stop throwing the ball to the other team; his streak of four straight games with an interception is his longest since 2015. Big Ben has five picks in his last four games after having four total in his first nine starts of 2020.

The offensive bright spot used to be the wide receiver group, but after three more balls hit the ground on Sunday, the Steelers lead the NFL in drops with 35, per Pro Football Focus.

The silver lining for Pittsburgh fans hoping the offense will wake up is the fact that the Steelers will wrap the season with a relatively appealing trio of opponents (the Bengals in Week 15, the Colts in Week 16 and the Browns in Week 17). The Steelers have scored 30 or more points three times this season, and two of those games were against the Bengals (Week 10) and Browns (Week 6). Meanwhile, the Colts ranked No. 1 in scoring defense at one point this season but currently rank No. 12. That all adds up to the Steelers' offense getting back on track ... right?

Jalen Hurts is Eagles' new franchise QB!

Eagles fans might not feel like this is an overreaction after Jalen Hurts joined Lamar Jackson as the only QBs in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards in their first career starts. The fact that Hurts hit the century mark in the win over New Orleans is even more impressive when you consider the Saints had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 50 straight games entering Week 14, the fourth-longest streak since 1950.

The rookie should also get credit for cooling off what had been the hottest team in football, ending the NFL's longest active winning streak at nine games. The only other QB in NFL history to end an opponent's win streak of at least nine games in their first career start was Ron Jaworski. That was back in 1975, when he led the Rams to a win over the Steelers, who had won 11 straight.

The Eagles improved to 11-3 (including the playoffs) without Carson Wentz since they drafted Wentz second overall in 2016, ensuring two things: 1) a QB controversy will continue to bubble (fueled further by Doug Pederson's Monday announcement that Hurts will start again in Week 15), and 2) everything is fine in Philly.

Patrick Mahomes just lost the MVP race

Patrick Mahomes entered Week 14 with the best single-season TD-to-INT ratio (31:2) in the Super Bowl era by a QB with at least 250 pass attempts. After tying his single-game career high of three interceptions against the Dolphins on Sunday, Mahomes plummeted on the TD-to-INT ratio list, where he dropped to ninth -- and likely slipped in the MVP race, as well.

Yes, for most of the year, Mahomes has looked like a legitimate front-runner to hoist his second MVP trophy in three seasons. But Sunday's win, which featured dazzling efforts from Mahomes' playmakers, serves as a reminder that they deserve some credit, too. Tyreek Hill (three catches for 79 yards and a score against Miami) has 16 total TDs this season and is averaging 26.8 yards on those scores. Since 2002, only four players have boasted a higher yards-per-TD average on at least 15 trips to the end zone: Chris Johnson (38.8 in 2009), Jordy Nelson (33.8 in 2011), Terrell Owens (27.7 in 2007) and Antonio Brown (27.4 in 2018). How about Travis Kelce (eight catches for 136 yards and a score), who has at least 100 receiving yards in five of his last six games? That brings his total in that span to 749 yards, the most in a six-game stretch by a tight end in NFL history.

And finally, let's not forget Mahomes' primary MVP competition: Mr. (Aaron) Rodgers, who reclaimed the 2020 TD-to-INT-ratio lead (39:4) from Mahomes after Sunday's outing against the Lions. The Packer QB's performance marked Rodgers' 55th career game of at least three passing TDs and zero INTs, which is tied with Drew Brees for the second-most such games by a QB since 1950, trailing only Tom Brady (61). And by the way, nine of those games have come this season, which is not only the most in the NFL, but four more than Mahomes.

Chicago's offense has turned a corner!

Remember all that chatter about the Bears' anemic offense? Guess who has the fifth-highest scoring average since Week 12? Da Bears. On Sunday, The Bears hung 36 points on the Texans, their highest scoring total since they put up 41 points against the Bills in Week 9 of the 2018 season.

In Week 14, Mitchell Trubisky had a season-best 126.7 passer rating and recorded his fifth career game with at least three passing TDs and zero INTs. Something clicked with Trubisky, who has now gone consecutive games with a completion percentage over 70, at least 250 passing yards, zero INTs and a passer rating over 100.

The running game is finally out of hibernation, as the Bears have rushed for over 120 yards in three straight games. David Montgomery had a career-high 155 scrimmage yards on Sunday and even popped an 80-yard rushing TD, tied with Neal Anderson for the longest by a Bears player in the Super Bowl era.

The Bears have increased their scoring total in each of the last four games (13, 25, 30 and 36). So remember: It's not how you start (19.1 points per game in Weeks 1-11), it's how you finish (30.3 points per game in Weeks 12-14) that matters.

Jamal Adams = one-man L.O.B.

Seattle's Legion of Boom (Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor) secondary, which wreaked havoc against opponents in the first half of the 2010s, was a defensive unit for the ages. Sherman, Thomas and Chancellor are gone -- but this year, the Seahawks added one player, do-everything safety Jamal Adams, who embodies them all.

Facing the Jets team that drafted him in the first round in 2017 then traded him in July, the All-Pro had his NFL-best seventh game with at least five tackles and a sack. The sack on Sunday pushed his total to 8.5 on the season, the most by a defensive back in a single season since sacks began being tracked in 1982. Adams' pass-rushing prowess is drawing praise from the analytics community, as well; his 85.3 pass-rush grade is the second-highest among all safeties with at least 15 pass rushes, per PFF (behind Antoine Winfield Jr.'s 85.7).

Adams has been a bright spot for a defense that allows 4.9 fewer points per game when he is in the lineup. That with/without differential is second only to Sherman (6.9) among the members of the Legion of Boom during their reign in Seattle.

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