Through seven weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-4 and tied for second in the AFC North. In fact, Pittsburgh has been one of the most disappointing teams in the league so far. That said, it’s not entirely their fault. The injury to Ben Roethlisberger changed the team’s ceiling from contender to middle of the road. Despite this, Pittsburgh made a win-now move to trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick in exchange for its 2020 first-round pick. So far this move has paid off, as Fitzpatrick has looked every bit the star the team hoped he would be. In this piece, we will look at their roster and schedule to predict the Pittsburgh Steelers’ final record.
Predicting the Pittsburgh Steelers Final Record
Analyzing The Defense
So far, the defense has outplayed the offense. In fact, the Steelers are tied for second in takeaways with 15 and they’re tied for sixth in sacks with 20. They have playmakers on every level of the defense. Every week, rookie phenom Devin Bush shows off his elite quickness and ability to cover the entire field. Thus far he has four fumble recoveries, two interceptions, and 52 tackles. When looking at the defensive line the talent is just as impressive. T.J. Watt has four sacks so far and looks every part the superstar he was last season when he recorded 12 sacks. On the opposite side, Bud Dupree has finally made the leap in his contract year. The biggest concern is how the loss of Stephon Tuitt will hurt this team. Tuitt was placed on IR in the midst of his best season as a pro.
Analyzing The Offense
Long gone are the days of big plays downfield for the offense. The coaching staff has chosen to rely heavily on quick screen passes since the injury to Big Ben. A shocking statistic is that the Steelers average both the fifth-lowest total yards and fifth-lowest passing yards per game. Mason Rudolph has the second-lowest air yards per completion according to Next-Gen Stats at 3.8. They haven’t been able to lean on the run game either. In the first couple of games especially, James Conner looked sluggish and couldn’t break tackles. Through six games, Conner averages an inefficient 3.2 YPC on 74 attempts. Finally, their best weapon JuJu Smith-Schuster has been a nonfactor in this new offense, putting up yard totals of 15 and seven in two of their most recent games.
Analyzing The Schedule
Looking ahead, the Steelers schedule is a mixed bag. They have a game on Monday night vs the 0-6 Miami Dolphins. In addition, they also have a game against the winless Cincinnati Bengals and the 1-5 New York Jets. Those are three games they should be able to pick up wins. They have four games against middling teams. They have both games against the Cleveland Browns which could result in a 1-1 split (The Browns haven’t swept the Steelers since 1988). As well as games against the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams. There’s potential for another 1-1 split here with a loss to LA and a win against Arizona. Finally, there are three games against the Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, and Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens and Bills are two of The AFC’s Super Bowl Underdogs and the Colts are in the first place of the AFC South.
Final Record Prediction: 7-9
In conclusion, the schedule is favorable enough for Pittsburgh that a 5-11 record should be the worst-case scenario. With that said, as long as their offense remains conservative, they will struggle to beat average teams. The Steelers defense is talented enough to win an additional game or two on their own. What the Steelers should hope for the rest of 2019 is seeing enough from Rudolph to know if he is the future franchise quarterback. Because even though Roethlisberger will be back next year, the keys to the franchise won’t be his for too much longer. On defense, the Steelers should hope for Bush to keep playing like a DROY candidate, and for the pass rush to carry over into next season when their super bowl window is potentially reopened with the return of Roethlisberger.
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