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 Steelers will emerge from the next three games against quality opponents with a winning record—2-1 or better.
Explanation: After facing four teams with at least three losses each, the Steelers’ next three opponents combine for just two losses on the season, and one of those losses comes from within the trio. This stretch of games is being viewed as a litmus test to see who this team really is. If they can take at least two of these games, they will shoot up the power rankings lists of those who continue to be skeptical.
The Steelers always beat the Browns in Pittsburgh. I think Cleveland has notched a road victory in this series maybe once or twice since they returned to the league in 1999, and that would have been before Ben Roethlisberger was around. They couldn’t even beat Devlin Hodges last year.
Yes, they’re certainly a better team this year than they were a year ago, but it’ll still be a win. And they can force the Tennessee Titans game into Ryan Tannehill’s hand. Derrick Henry is a talented back, but the Steelers’ run defense can grind him down and force the Titans into passing situations.
Even if they fail to lose one of those two games, the reality is that the Ravens are not unbeatable. Their run game is not quite the same as it was last year, in part because Lamar Jackson is not running as much. As long as they can control Mark Andrews, they’ll be fine.
The Steelers have had the benefit of being at home so far this year. Now they will have to travel to Nashville and Baltimore, two tough places to play, and the change itself will be jarring, especially in front of hostile fans.
The Titans looked dominant against the previously undefeated Buffalo Bills, and Tannehill didn’t look like somebody who was worried about the game being in his hands. The Ravens have the best cornerbacks in the league and are taking the ball away. The Steelers’ offense is not consistent enough to lose possessions.
And the Browns have been lighting up the scoreboard the past four weeks. Pittsburgh won’t be able to keep pace with all three of these offenses, especially cumulatively facing them week after week.