Do you like NFL projections that are based on analytics? If so, you might want to read the latest offering from Hank Gargiulo on ESPN.com.
In short, ESPN’s Sports Analytics team has finished calculating their initial Football Power Index rankings for 2017 and when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, specifically, they’re expected to have a great 2017 season just like many of us already hope and think they will.
According to their 2017 FPI preseason rankings, ESPN has the Steelers ranked third-overall with a +4.7 index number with the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers being the two teams ahead of them.
The Steelers, as you would expect, are projected to win the AFC North in 2017 and the ESPN analytics team gives them a 56.0% chance to do just that. The Steelers probability of making the playoffs in 2017 as either a division winner or Wild Card team is 75.9%, according to the projections and they’re given a 15.2% chance of ultimately being the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
As far as the Steelers chances of winning Super Bowl LII go, ESPN analytics gives them just a 8.5% chance as the Patriots are the biggest favorites at 34.7%.
Gargiulo claims that the ESPN analytics department uses their ratings to simulate the NFL season 10,000 times in order to derive a team’s chances to win its division, make the playoffs, win the Super Bowl, etc. If you would like to read more on how they calculate FPI, click here and here.)
Overall, ESPN’s initial FPI ratings and projections for the Steelers probably aren’t a big surprise to those who follow the team closely. First, the Steelers offense is expected to improve in 2017 with wide receiver Martavis Bryant hopefully back for good and if the rest of the unit can stay healthy. The Steelers defense is also expected to take another step forward in 2017 now that several of last year’s rookies have experience.
In the end, it won’t be surprising to many to see the Steelers and Patriots face-off once again in the AFC Championship game with the outcome hopefully being different than it was this past January.