The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.
Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.
As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion
Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.
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: Are the Steelers the best team in the NFL—or at least the AFC?
Yes, I realize this would be a better question to ask a week from now after the Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens have played. But we can ask it again in seven days if Pittsburgh wins that game. We’re asking it now, after they took down the previously 5-0 Tennessee Titans, now with two victories against five-win teams.
After taking down some inferior opponents over the first four games, most of them at home, the Steelers have secured two quality victories, including one against the only other remaining unbeaten team in the conference, and they did so yesterday on a road trip in front of hostile fans.
While the second half wasn’t pretty, they have now jumped out to great starts two weeks in a row, leading at halftime 24-7 in each of the past two weeks. The Titans proved resilient and nearly came back, but they are one of the toughest outs in the league, and they were at home. The Steelers could have done better to close, but they still ultimately played better, and won.
This is a team with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball and stability, even some splash, on special teams. There is no such thing as a complete team in the advance salary cap era of the NFL, but the Steelers at full health may have the best claim toward that. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t putting up gaudy production numbers, but he’s keeping drives alive and getting into the end zone, and the defense is keeping opposing quarterbacks and running backs uneasy.