While everything is doom and gloom when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers right now—and let’s be honest, it’s far from being wildly unjustified—it’s important to keep in mind that, even at 0-3, the season isn’t over yet, and that things can be turned around. They are only two games behind the Baltimore Ravens for the division lead with 13 games left to play, so as long as they can, you know, play, they can make a move.
What’s worth noting is that two of the teams that they have already played, and lost two, are NFC opponents, those being the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers. A loss is a loss, but when it comes to tiebreakers, conference record matters, so you’d rather have your losses come against the NFC.
And the Steelers are just set now to begin conference play, starting with, frankly, their easiest opponent, that being the 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals, against whom they are actually favored to win. Rookie head coach Zac Taylor also announced that A.J. Green would already be ruled out for this game, so that’s one less thing they’ll have to worry about. It remains to be seen if Cordy Glenn can play.
This is a big two-game stretch coming up that may very well be the key to showing if the Steelers can actually still manage to be competitive this year. If they can somehow manage to come up with a couple of wins here, first against the Bengals and then a week later against the Ravens, who were put in their place on Sunday by the Kansas City Chiefs, then perhaps we can put some of that pessimism on the back burner.
This is a Steelers team that is still very much finding itself, on both sides of the ball. In some cases, that was part of the plan set in place in the offseason. In others, it was forced upon them due to injuries. They already have two new starters in Mason Rudolph, replacing Ben Roethlisberger, and Minkah Fitzpatrick being acquired to take over for Sean Davis.
Meanwhile, the wide receiver group is still taking shape as they figure out if they want Donte Moncrief to be a part of it. Diontae Johnson appears as though he is beginning to emerge, with a couple of impressive plays on Sunday, among them a 39-yard touchdown catch on a deep throw.
No matter what happens, this is going to be a flawed team, and they are probably going to scratch and claw their way to just about any win they’ll be able to muster this year. But I do think it’s a team capable of winning games, even if they’re not pretty.