If you were looking for a rosy outlook on the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday isn’t your day. After CBS’ Jason La Canfora predicted the team would miss the playoffs this season, Pro Football Focus ran a simulation of playoff and Super Bowl odds for all 32 teams. The Steelers didn’t fare much better.
In fact, the simulation offered a bleak reality for Pittsburgh.
In the 10,000 times the site ran their Elo System, the Steelers made the playoffs just 26.9% of the time. That was the 27th-lowest percentage in the league, only ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, and Denver Broncos. Not exactly the titans of the NFL.
On average, even in the new 17-game season, the Steelers won a mere 7.6 games. Only the Eagles, Texans, and Lions simulated worse.
By now, you can imagine the simulation wasn’t high on the team’s Super Bowl odds. It had the Steelers hoisting the Lombardi just 0.7% of the time. Again, that was one of the lowest marks in football. By comparison, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were given a 16% chance of repeating as world champs.
One element that may be hurting the Steelers here is their schedule, rated as football’s toughest this year. That includes a brutal finish to the year, facing the Ravens, Browns, Titans, and Chiefs in five of their final six games. Baltimore and Cleveland fared much better with their playoff hopes. The Browns had a 72.7% chance of making it back to the postseason while the Ravens sat at 63.6%. The Browns were heavy favorites to win the North with a 46.3% chance. The Steelers were given less than a 10% chance to capture the division and actually had worse odds than the Bengals. It was 9.7% for Cincinnati, 9.6% for Pittsburgh.
The math does seem harsh for a team like Pittsburgh who hasn’t won fewer than eight games since 2003. But it does illustrate the changing landscape of the team and the division. Of course, this is all offseason fodder and becomes wholly irrelevant once Week 1 begins, something I’m sure you’ll be quick to point out in the comments below.