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 finish the regular season at least 14-2.
Explanation: With a 7-0 start to the season, and the toughest sledding of the Steelers’ schedule already in the rearview mirror, it’s fair to start contemplating lofty season-long projections. After all, they did got 14-2 the only other time they started 7-0. They only have four more games against winning teams, and two of those games are at home.
At Dallas, home against the Bengals, and at Jacksonville. That alone takes the Steelers to 10-0. From that point forward, they merely need to go 4-2 the rest of the way to lock up that record, which may well be good enough to lock up the top seed in the conference.
The most challenging games that remain on the schedule would be a home game against the Ravens, whom they just beat in Baltimore coming off a bye, a road game against the Browns, who lost their best offensive player and are beginning to fall apart, a home game against Philip Rivers and the Colts, and an away game against the Buffalo Bills.
Of the four, perhaps the game against the Bills concerns me most, but with two games against the Bengals and two games against the NFC East, plus the Jaguars, there is too much fluff remaining on the schedule not to be optimistic.
When have the Steelers ever made it through a season without losing a game or two that they ‘should have’ won? Even in 2017 when they went 13-3, they dropped a game in overtime to the Bears. There is always that factor.
And the division is always tough. Joe Burrow is clearly legitimate. If the Bengals’ defense can actually manage to hold up in one of their two games, that’s a loss to Cincinnati. Rivers, when he’s on, is looking fired up in Indianapolis. And Josh Allen is getting better every year for the Bills, who are now fueled by New England’s collapse.
With nine games to go, a 7-2 finish is pretty ambitious. 12-4 is a much safer bet, with 13-3 more than reasonable, but they haven’t won more than 13 games since 2004.