The Pittsburgh Steelers have a bit of a bad rap for being an underperforming road team, but the current reality is that that have actually won their last five games away from Heinz Field during regular season play, including the season opener in Cleveland and during four contests in their seven-game win streak that closed out the 2016 regular season.
Admittedly, none of those games came against teams who were heavy hitters, including the Browns and Bengals, and a Luckless Colts team, though they played very well against Buffalo. Ben Roethlisberger, however, did not.
Today, they look to claim their sixth consecutive road victory over the course of the past two seasons, and this time they will be attempting to do so in Chicago, a city in which they have had frighteningly little success from a historical perspective, winning only one of more than a dozen games there.
Not that ancient history plays much of a role in what will happen today, and when it comes to today’s game, I think it’s clear that the Steelers are the better team, on paper. But games are very rarely, if ever, played on paper in the NFL (that’s a joke, of course. I’m a funny guy).
Statistically, the Steelers haven’t been so bad scoring points on the road during their five-game winning streak, averaging just under 25 points per game during that span, which is usually enough to come out of a hostile city with a victory.
Last season, they put up over 300 yards in those four road victories, though they fell short by 10 yards in this season’s opener. Their defensive efforts have been equally important, holding their opponents to under 300 yards in four of the five games, the fifth being just 310 yards, much of it gathered in garbage time.
In each of those games, the defense has held teams to 20 points or fewer, including two scores in the single digits, and they’ve had at least one takeaway in each of them. They had two takeaways in two of the five games during that span.
The Steelers as a road team have been trending in a positive direction, when you’re talking about the end result, though it hasn’t always been pretty. As I said earlier in the previous week, however, an ugly win counts the same as a pretty one, and coming out of an enemy stadium with a win is always an achievement.
With Pittsburgh’s next two games—and three out of their next four, and four out of their next six—taking place outside of Heinz Field, they will really have the opportunity early on in the season to construct a road identity for themselves.
They will have an easier time on the back end of the schedule, when five of their final eight games after the bye week will be at home, including three of their last four. But just in case they have to travel in the playoffs, they need to keep sharpening their travel teeth.