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Steelers’ Najee Harris primed for breakout game vs. Lions

Najee Harris is quickly becoming a problem for NFL defenses. And it’s after an underwhelming start to his rookie season.

Harris didn’t have any rushing touchdowns in the seasons’ first three weeks. Along with that, he averaged under 45 yards per game (41) on the ground. The Bills, Raiders, and Bengals, whom the Steelers faced to start the season, not only did a respectable job limiting his damage but keeping him out of the endzone as well.

His lone touchdown in those games was a receiving one. Harris’ start isn’t the projection that many experts had for him.

Unfortunately for the Detroit Lions, that’s old news now.

Since Week 4, Harris has increased his production on the ground en route to becoming one of the best running backs in the NFL.

Najee Harris
Nov 8, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) runs for a touchdown against the during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last five games, Harris has averaged 83.6 yards per game on the ground. And he’s had at least one rushing touchdown in four of those games. So far this season, he’s rushed for 541 yards and four touchdowns. At this rate, he’s on pace to finish the season with 1300+ yards and 13 touchdowns.

He’s going to be a handful (and then some) for the Lions.

The Lions will enter Sunday’s game ranked 26th in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 134.5 yards per game. During their 44-6 loss to the Eagles in Week 8, they gave up 236 rushing yards between Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott, Jalen Hurts, Jordan Howard, and Jalen Reagor.

With these numbers in mind, expect Najee Harris to have a breakout game against the Lions. So far this season, Harris has rushed for over 100 yards in only one game. During a Week 5, 27-19 home victory against the Broncos, he had 23 carries for 122 yards. Keep in mind that the Broncos rank 10th in the NFL against the run. Stopping the run is one of the many weaknesses of the Lions’ defense. So if he did that to one of the league’s best, one can wonder what he’ll do to one of the league’s worst.

Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn reportedly buried the game tape against the Eagles, which he should have. Because Najee Harris, in my opinion, will be the best running back they’ve faced this season. And if their defense duplicates anything from that Eagles game, Harris is potentially in for a historic day.

Follow Kory Woods at KoryEWoods on Twitter.

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