Two 1-2 teams searching for direction and identity clash in Week 4 of the NFL season as the NY Jets travel to Pittsburgh to square off with the Steelers. Both teams would love to get to 2-2 and stabilize their seasons.
The New York Jets have an all-time record of 1-10 versus the Steelers on the road, including two demoralizing playoff losses. The lone Jets victory came in December of 2010.
Pittsburgh has been a house of horrors for New York, and some of the franchise's greatest heartbreaks have come in that setting. The ghosts from January 23rd, 2011, still haunt the Jets franchise.
But history and the past won't determine Sunday's outcome. How the 2022 versions of the Steelers and Jets match up will decide the victor. Sunday's game will focus heavily on both teams' quarterback situations.
The performance of Zach Wilson in his 2022 regular season debut and Mitch Trubisky's shrinking leash on Pittsburgh's starting job as another anointed franchise quarterback Kenny Pickett gets closer to making his debut.
But there are other key matchups that could not only have an effect on how the quarterbacks play. Let's take a look at three key matchups this Sunday afternoon that could help determine which team gets to 2-2.
1. D.J. Reed vs. Diontae Johnson
The Steelers' go-to receiver, Diontae Johnson, has received the lion's share of Pittsburgh's passing targets this season. Johnson leads the team in that category and was targeted 11 times last week, netting eight receptions. He's sixth in the league in target share (32.7%) and ninth in air yards (41.2%).
Johnson figures to see a lot of cornerback D.J. Reed this Sunday. The Jets' prized free-agent pickup is off to a tremendous start this season. Reed has allowed only an 18.1 passer rating through three games and has kept opposing receivers scoreless while allowing only five receptions.
The Jets' defense would love to force Mitch Trubisky to look elsewhere for success because when he has, there have been struggles.
In Week 3 against the Browns, Trubisky tried to force the issue and take shots down the field but had very little success when attempting to connect with his other pass catchers, minus an all-time great circus catch by rookie George Pickens.
Mitch Trubisky is 27th in the league in passing yards and 33rd in yards per attempt. It's no secret that the Jets' overall pass defense has struggled mightily in their first three weeks of play, but this particular matchup favors New York, especially if the Jets' can take away Trubisky's sole security blanket.