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 sweep the AFC North.
Explanation: Already out to a 9-0 start on the season and having defeated each of their AFC North rivals—two of them handily—it is now fair to begin talking about the possibility of sweeping the division altogether, which, doing so, would guarantee them the division title (the worst their record could be would then be 12-4, and the best the Ravens’ could be would be 12-4, with two head-to-head losses).
The above statistic alone is a helpful reminder about how important divisional ball is. Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens dropping a frustrating one last night to the New England Patriots, the Steelers are suddenly gifted with a comfortable three-game lead in the AFC North, but it would be foolish to let up off the gas.
Especially with a rematch against the Ravens looming over the horizon. And this one is at home. Baltimore has some mounting injuries as well, just losing Nick Boyle for the season, for example. They should be able to handle them easier the second time around. They just showed how they can handle Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, whom they’ve defeated 11 straight times.
Arguably the biggest challenge would be the Cleveland Browns in the season finale, and only because the Steelers will be well-positioned. But odds are good they’ll be fighting for seeding, possibly even the number one seed.
Especially if the playoff picture is pretty clear by the end of the year, the Steelers could be resting some players against the Browns in the finale. Odds are good Cleveland will be fighting for a wildcard seed. The Ravens, for that matter, will be as well—or still have a shot at the division if they can beat Pittsburgh.
The Steelers have swept the Ravens twice in the Ben Roethlisberger era: in 2017, in the dying gasps of the Joe Flacco era, and in 2008, at the start of the Flacco era. The odds are against them beating Baltimore twice this season. They are 2-4 in their last six games against the Ravens in Pittsburgh, to boot.
Oh, and there’s always the possibility that they can lose to the Bengals. Just for completion’s sake.