The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Ravens’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs sets up the table for the Steelers to win the AFC North.
Explanation: For the first time in something like 23 weeks of regular season football, the Steelers own outright first place in the division, thanks to the Chiefs taking down the Ravens last night and sending them to 2-1 on the season, in a tie with the Cleveland Browns in second place. Pittsburgh still has two games to play with Baltimore, and now they only have to split them if they remain even through the rest of the schedule.
Considering the Ravens were on a 14-game regular season winning streak, the Steelers weren’t really in a good position to count their chickens before they hatch. I don’t think anybody really anticipates a Pittsburgh sweep of Baltimore this year, so the best they could hope for is a split.
Losing to the Chiefs gives the Steelers the edge that they need over Baltimore. Pittsburgh has shown through three weeks that this is arguably the most complete team it’s had in a decade between offense, defense, and even special teams.
The offense is still coming together, with Ben Roethlisberger making some strides each week, while the defense, particularly in coverage, is still rounding into form, but they are still no worse than average, and their pass rush is the best in the league.
Outside of one loss to the Cleveland Browns, the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes are the only team that has beaten Lamar Jackson in the regular season in 25 games. He’s 21-4 as a starter, and three of those losses can be traced back to Kansas City.
There isn’t another Kansas City in the NFL, plain and simple. Who else do the Ravens really need to worry about that the Steelers don’t? The Patriots? They can certainly beat Cam Newton’s Patriots. And they’re likely to finish with a better record than Pittsburgh against teams like the Colts, Titans, and Cowboys. Nobody the Steelers have beaten has won a game yet this year, so it doesn’t mean much that they’re 3-0 in terms of measuring their ability to beat quality teams.