Najee Harris is Poised to Explode Sunday

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Najee Harris
PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 10: Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action during the game against the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field on October 10, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Najee Harris broke out in week 5 against the Denver Broncos, becoming the first Pittsburgh Steelers running back to rush for over 100 yards since Week 6 of 2019. He only proved what everyone in the Steelers front office believed, Najee Harris is going to be one of the best running backs in the NFL.

You could say that Harris is coming into his own. This week, against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football, Harris will rise into superstardom. This game is set up to give Harris the spotlight. The Seahawks are awful against the run.

And Harris is not only going to run all over them, he might just run away with Offensive Rookie of the Year too. 

Najee Harris is poised to Explode on Sunday Night Football

The Seahawks are so bad on defense that at this rate, giving up over 400 yards per game if they keep it up, they will be the worst defense in NFL history. They are not so good against the run either. This week, against the Steelers in Primetime, should be no different. In fact, it might be the worst game of the season for the Seahawks rushing defense when it’s all said and done.

Because the Seahawks’ defense is awful. Just take a look at these numbers.

The Seahawks Run Defense is Horrible

Well, the average Rushing Yards allowed by the Seattle Seahawks defense is 145. The Seahawks allow 165 (on average) rushing yards at home, and in away games, 132. That’s good for 2nd worst defense against the run. Overall, they are the 2nd worst defense in the league, behind the Kansas City Chiefs.

They allow on average 4.5 yards yards per run while allowing on average 4.8 at home and 4.3 away. The Seahawks are on the road this week against the Steelers.

The Seahawks have played the Indianapolis ColtsTennessee Titans, Minnesota VikingsSan Francisco 49ers, and Los Angles Rams. The first four teams all run the ball pretty well, but the 49ers have been without their top 2-3 running backs. The Vikings also were without Dalvin Cook and still were torched on the ground.

Let’s see how awful the ‘Hawks have been against the run. Starting by yards allowed to running backs. Jonathan Taylor: 17 rushing attempts for 56 yards. He also caught the ball 6 times for 60 yards. Derrick Henry: 35 RA (Rushing Attempts) for 185 yards. He also had 6 receptions for 55 yards. Now the Titans were in overtime, but he ran only 5 times for 25 yards in the extra period.

Alexander Mattison: 26 RA for 112. He also caught the ball 6 times for 59 yards. Trey Sermon: 19 RA for 89. Jacques Patrick hauled in 4 catches for 41 yards (in the game against the 49ers). Darrell Henderson: 17 RA for 82 and 1 reception for 17. Sony Michelle: 11 RA for 37.

The Seahawks have also given up five touchdowns to RB’s, but three of those came in week 2 to Derrick Henry. So the ‘Hawks have been able to keep running backs out of the Red Zone. The last two touchdowns came last week, one apiece to Henderson and Michelle.

They gave up 113 yards on 30 attempts to the Colts (who had Time of Possession won 35-24 roughly) and 143 yards on 29 attempts to the 49ers (who had a TOP 31-39). The TOP is concerning because that means that not only is the Seahawks defense not good, it cant get off the field.

Suffice to say, not good. It’s interesting to note that the Hawks have allowed 33 receptions to running backs for 314 yards. That’s an average of 9.5 Yards Per Reception, which is almost a first down every time the running back has caught the ball. And none of the RB’s the Seahawks have played aside from Nyheim Hines are known as pass-catching backs.

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Najee Harris is the perfect back to expose the ‘Hawks defensive problems

Najee Harris has averaged 3.9 yards per carry this year. He has done so on 78 attempts, which is 8th best in the league. However, over the last two games, Harris has steadily improved, coinciding with his offensive line gelling.

Against the Green Bay Packers, Harris ran 15 times for 62 yards and a YPC (yards per carry) of 4.1. The following week against the Denver Broncos, Harris touched the rock 23 times for 122 yards and a YPC of 5.3, the best game of his young career. Over the last two weeks, Harris has run the ball 38 times for 184 yards and an average of 4.8 YPC.

Against the second-worst defense in the league, expect Harris to exceed the 4.3 YPC mark allowed by the Seahawks defense. He should be consistently hitting his 4.8 YPC from the last two weeks, and he could very well rush for more than that.

The Steelers challenged their offensive line and running backs last week, and they are going to do so again this week, this time asking the line to prove they can do it more than once. And while the Seahawks are going to have their hands full trying to stop Najee Harris on the ground, they also have to stop him through the air as well.

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Najee Harris is a Monster Catching Passes

Najee Harris is quite possibly the best receiving back in the NFL, seriously. Look at this stat line. 28 receptions for 198 yards, and an average of 7.8 yards per catch. He leads the NFL in targets for running backs and has the most receiving yards out of all the running backs in the NFL.

The Seahawks have allowed 33 receptions to running backs for 314 yards, an average of 9.5 YPR (yards per reception). The best receiving back the Seahawks have played against has been Nyheim Hines.

Harris is going to be a real pain to cover and defend through the air for an already banged-up Seahawks secondary and linebacking unit. Harris is set up to have his biggest game of the year so far, and it might be the best game he has this year, at least statistically.

I don’t know how the Seahawks are going to defend Harris. Sticking Jamal Adams on Harris is not going to work, if anything that’s a real mismatch in Pittsburgh’s favor.

Najee Harris is going to tear up the Seahawks Sunday night. He is the perfect running back to exploit the weakness of the Seahawks’ defense and there probably won’t be a thing the Seahawks can do to stop him.

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