The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph, and now Devlin Hodges? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: How good are the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Well, we posed the question yesterday about how good the Buffalo Bills are. The Steelers are not in a terribly dissimilar situation, and given that they face each other Sunday night, it would seem fitting to ask the same question of our team.
The Steelers are 8-5. They are 8-2 in their past 10 games and 7-1 in their past eight. There aren’t many teams hotter than they are right now. Perhaps only the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans could state their case for the contrary.
But whom have they really beaten?
Their latest victory was over the Arizona Cardinals. The only teams in the NFC with a worse record than them are the bottomfeeders of the NFC East. The Indianapolis Colts had a winning record at the time that the Steelers played them, but they’ve bottomed out since then and are now 6-7. Jacoby Brissett was injured in that game, and T.Y. Hilton didn’t play.
The ‘best’ team that they’ve beaten is the Los Angeles Rams, who have gone 3-1 since losing to the Steelers and are 8-5, sitting outside the playoff bubble. But they were playing pretty bad football during the time that they visited Pittsburgh—not just that game, but leading up to it as well.
Arguably the best case they can make for their own quality, in my opinion, is the fact that they played three good teams closely, despite losing. You could possibly change just one single non-scoring play in each of their losses to the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers, and the Baltimore Ravens and it would have resulted in the alternative outcome of a Pittsburgh victory.
And their offense and defense are arguably more settled now than they were at the time of playing those games, despite injuries.