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: What is the minimum number of wins the Steelers will need over the final four games to reach the postseason?
Despite an awful start to the season, the Steelers have put themselves in great position over the past month and a half to make it into the postseason. They have gone 6-1 over their past seven games, and at least currently, they believe they have made a change at the quarterback position that will be to their advantage.
Sitting at 7-5, they are one of three non-division-leading teams with a record with that high a winning percentage or better. The Buffalo Bills are in the driver’s seat with a 9-3 record, but they have a very difficult schedule remaining, including the Steelers, the New England Patriots, and the Baltimore Ravens.
Also 7-5 are the Tennessee Titans, who have had more success since benching Marcus Mariota in favor of Ryan Tannehill. They have won their last three games, and five of their last six, though perhaps the only two teams of note that they beat in that span were the Chiefs (at home) and the Colts (on the road).
The Titans still have to play the AFC South-leading Houston Texans twice, and also face the 10-2 New Orleans Saints, so it’s hard to see them ending the season on a seven-game winning streak.
Also in the picture are the Colts and the Oakland Raiders, both at 6-6. The former also has to play the Saints, and the Steelers own the tiebreaker over them. The Raiders have a relatively light schedule, with the Titans, Jaguars, Chargers, and Broncos. They’ve already scored victories over their divisional opponents, but these final two games will be on the road.
Now Pittsburgh, they have three of four on the road, including at Arizona, at New York (Jets), and at Baltimore, plus a home game against the Bills. Knowing all of these relevant schedules, how many games do you think the Steelers will have to win, at minimum, over the final four weeks to reach the postseason? I’m personally thinking 2-2 should cover it.