2021 South Side Questions: What Does Steelers’ Win In Buffalo Say About Contender Status?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is underway, and they are hoping for a better outcome in comparison to last season. After starting out 11-0, they finished the year 1-4 in the regular season, and then lost in the Wildcard Round to the Cleveland Browns, ignited by a 0-28 first quarter.

They have lost a large number of key players in the offseason, like Maurkice Pouncey, Bud Dupree, Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but they’ve also made significant additions as the months have gone on, notably Trai Turner, Melvin Ingram, Joe Schobert, and Ahkello Witherspoon. They also added Najee Harris, Pat Freiermuth, Kendrick Green, and Dan Moore Jr., all of whom look to be in a starting role (or complementary role in Freiermuth’s case) for the season opener.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. They have a 53-man roster, though it will always change to some degree. They still have a lot to figure out, though, such as what Matt Canada’s offense is going to look like in any given week, or how the new-look secondary and offensive line is going to play.

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. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: What does the Steelers’ ability to beat the Bills on the road say about their prospects of being a title contender?

The Steelers are 1-0, and the Bills are 0-1, after the 2021 edition of their seemingly annual meetings. Buffalo had gotten the better of them in recent years, and it was looking that way by halftime, building up a 10-0 lead, but Pittsburgh came back in the second half to win by a touchdown, outscoring them 23-6.

So what does that say about the Steelers and who they are as a team, and as a contender, in 2021? While they did secure a significant road win against a team regarded as one of the best in the league, they still have plenty of faults, many of which, diagnosed before the game, were on full display.

The running game still didn’t really go anywhere, and the offensive line left a lot to be desired. Ben Roethlisberger looked less than sharp for most of the game. Would they have even won were it not for Miles Killebrew recording a blocked punt?

Or is it a matter of winning by any means possible, and winning while growing? Yes, the Steelers have a number of issues, but many of them will improve over the course of the season, because much of it is tied to the development of young players. They have four rookies starting on offense. It would be crying shame if they don’t improve from September to December.

The question is, will they be in the Super Bowl conversation when the calendar rolls over into January? How much does the win over the Bills move the needle on that one, if at all?

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