The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers are set for a bit of a redemption season. In 2019 a lot of pieces came together, specifically on the defensive side of the ball, but with the injury of Ben Roethlisberger the team never really had a shot to make a splash in the postseason. By all reports, Ben is ready to go this year which provides a good deal of hope for the outcome of the 2020 season.
In this series, I will break down 2 games at a time, give some historic precedence, and ultimately give a prediction based on my findings.
Here are some notable 2020 Steelers win and loss totals from experts and models around the media:
For the most part, it seems that national media and betting sites are bearish on the 2020 Steelers, besides a couple bullish outliers that see things differently.
With the return of almost all of a very strong defense and the return of a previously injured franchise quarterback, also coupled with the 2nd easiest strength of schedule in 2020 (.457) the media consensus seems a bit low.
Since Ben Roethslisberger joined the team in 2004, the Steelers have averaged 7.625 wins through their first 12 games – good enough for a 63.54% win rate. By this point in the season, it is firmly cold weather football in Pittsburgh, which Ben has thrived in throughout his career, particularly under Mike Tomlin. Since 2013, the Steelers have a staggering 24-9 record (.727) in the months of December and January – famously wrapped up by Mike Tomlin back in 2009 when he claimed the Steelers would “unleash hell” in December.
With all that context in mind, I will break down the 11th and 12th games on the Steelers schedule in 2020.
Week 12 – November 26th – vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Steelers and Ravens rivalry is something special with several iconic moments over the past couple decades. Since the beginning of the Ben Roethlisberger era, the Steelers have gone 14-18 against the Ravens, not including the playoffs. Out of those 16 seasons, the Steelers and Ravens split the series on 10 occasions. The Ravens have swept the Steelers four times and the Steelers have swept the Ravens twice. Overall the Steelers have gone 9-7 at home and 7-11 in Baltimore. During this span, neither team has swept the other in back to back seasons.
Coming off 2019, where the Steelers were swept, albeit with a less-than-desirable quarterback situation, the historic precedence bodes well for a Steelers victory at home at the end of November in the cold weather.
Steelers vs. Ravens all time record: 28-24-0
Steelers vs. Ravens (at home): 17-11-0
Last match result: 28-10 Ravens (2019)
Notable free agent addition: DE Calais Campbell
Notable draft picks: ILB Patrick Queen, RB J.K. Dobbins, WR Devin Duvernay, WR James Proche
Key match-up to watch: Since 2004, the Steelers and Ravens have had 21 out of a possible 32 regular season games end in a touchdown spread or less – oftentimes the game being decided by a field goal. Justin Tucker of the Ravens has been one of the best and most consistent kickers in NFL history, and Chris Boswell, despite an off year in 2018, has been one of the best kickers in Steelers history. This game, in cold weather, could very well be another game decided by a field goal, so the match-up to watch will be the two recent AFC Pro Bowl kickers facing off against each other – especially when the Steelers’ redzone offense was dead last in 2019.
Highlight from last match:
Score Prediction: Steelers 23, Ravens 20. (8-3)
Week 13 – December 6th – vs. Washington Redskins
The Redskins landed a blue chip talent in the draft in Chase Young, and shored up their secondary primarily through free agency. Their defense has a shot at showing some large improvements – not all that high of a mark when their defense allowed the 6th most points and yards in 2019 across the NFL.
The Redskins reason for optimism lives in their new head coach, Ron Rivera. Rivera is known for his risk taking and for building a solid program in Carolina before joining the Redskins this year. They also have second year signal caller, Dwayne Haskins. By all reports this offseason he has transformed his body and is looking trim. He only played in 9 games last season, taking over partway through the season and managed 1,365 yards with 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. His stats were nothing spectacular, but he had an unenviable position coming in for a team who had 6 losses by the time he took over in week 8.
Steelers vs. Redskins all time record: 33-42-3
Steelers vs. Redskins (at home): 20-22-0
Last match result: 38-16 Steelers (2016)
Notable free agent addition: CB Ronald Darby, S Sean Davis, CB Kendall Fuller, QB Kyle Allen
Notable draft picks: EDGE Chase Young, OT Saahdiq Charles, RB Antonio Gibson
Key match-up to watch: The Redskins allowed 50 sacks on their quarterback, allowing a sack on almost 10% of their pass attempts. The Steelers defense led the league in sacks in 2019, and that was with an injured Stephon Tuitt. Thats a problem for Washington.
Highlight from last match:
Score Prediction: Steelers 20, Redskins 7. (9-3)