James Conner
(Keith Srakocic/Associated Press)

A running back is the X-Factor for one of the NFL’s best teams? Yup, at least that’s the case this week. James Conner is the X-Factor for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ve never said the running game as a whole isn’t valuable. In fact, I believe that establishing the run is extremely important for an offense. Now, it’s time for Pittsburgh to rediscover their ground game.

This Sunday Night, a very stoppable force meets a very movable object. The Bills have an absolutely atrocious run defense, they’re a bottom 10 defense against the run. You’d hope that the Pittsburgh Steelers would find a way to exploit this, right? No more of this CFL dropback 50 times a game to throw, bring back the old school Pittsburgh Steelers Football. Power runs, smash-mouth football, The Bus running over Brian Urlacher type of football.

Yet, that doesn’t look very appealing either. The Steelers have a bottom 5 rushing offense, yikes. Against the Washington Football Team (still stings), the Steelers had 21 total rushing yards on 14 attempts. 1.5 yards per attempt, that’s unacceptable. Against the Baltimore Ravens a week before, they had 68 rushing yards on 20 attempts. Less than 100 total rushing yards in two weeks is just pathetic. It’s time to rediscover the ground game, The matchup calls for it, and running the ball is still valuable despite what PFF clowns say.

So now, James Conner comes in. On the season, James Conner is averaging 70.6 rushing yards per game in games that he has at least 9 carries. If we bump that up to at least double-digit carries, he averages 76.75 (This would be excluding the Giants game and the Cowboys game in which he got six and nine carries respectively). On a per-carry basis, Conner is averaging 4.5 yards, tied for a career-high.

The Steelers have 89 total rushing yards over the past two games, the return of Conner should give Pittsburgh more confidence in the run game. If the Steelers want to win, it’s time to feed Conner and go back to smash-mouth football. He’s the X-Factor this week, time to run the damn ball.

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