Though the Pittsburgh Steelers still have three games yet to play left on their schedule, only one of them is at home, and it is the next one, tomorrow evening as they host the Denver Broncos in what could be the final game played at Heinz Field this season.
It’s also the last chance to get some of that home cooking that has served them quite well this year. The Steelers, for example, are 5-2 thus far at home, and just 3-3 on the road during their first 13 games.
One of those losses came in overtime with Mike Vick at quarterback and featured two missed field goals in the fourth quarter. The other was a 16-10 loss to the same Bengals team that they just beat on the road 33-20 in what was Ben Roethlisberger’s first game back from an MCL sprain and a bone bruise, and he clearly played like it.
They have won every other game, and, in fact, even including the 10-point showing, have averaged 30.1 points per game at home, while they have averaged only 22.2 points per game on the road.
Overall, they are averaging 26.5 points per game on the season, so you see how the home cooking has aided their efforts. It should be worth noting, though, that they have no put up 30 and 33 points in their last two road games, scoring just 21, 12, 24, and 13 in their first four trips away from Heinz Field.
Those are not the only numbers that have had the home field advantage for the Steelers, however. Another figure that has been heavily skewed away from the stadium has been sacks. Pittsburgh has re-emerged as a pass rushing team this year with 38 at the moment, but only 13 have come on the road so far, racking up two apiece in their first five games, with three in the last game.
25 of the Steelers’ 38 sacks have come at Heinz Field in seven games, which is an average of better than 3.5 sacks per game. It stands to reason then that if they really want to pad their sack total on the year then this Broncos game would give them the best opportunity to do it.
Also down away from Heinz Field has been the turnover, as the Steelers have gained just seven takeaways in six road trips, with three of them coming on Sunday, including two interceptions of a backup quarterback.
At the same time, the offense and special teams have coughed up the ball 11 times on the road, which translates to a minus-four turnover differential. At home, they have given up the ball 12 times—including all 12 in the last four games, admittedly—but the defense has gotten back 20, resulting in a plus-eight turnover differential at home. They have at least three takeaways in each of their last three home games.
It helps that the Steelers’ last two road games come against banged up teams already eliminated from contention starting backup quarterbacks, of course.