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Kozora: 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers Stat Predictions

With the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season just 24 hours away, I wanted to make some completely arbitrary and totally meaningless stat predictions for this team this season. My guesses (and they are very much guesses) of what the stat sheet will look like at the end of this season.

For this exercise, I’m assuming each player plays all 17 games. That won’t obviously come true but it makes the stats the cleanest and easiest to do. Of course, for players already injured (like RB Anthony McFarland and DL Stephon Tuitt) I am taking into consideration the three games minimum they’ll miss this year.

Let me know your thoughts and your own stat predictions below.

Quarterback

Player Completions Attempts Yards TDs INTs
Ben Roethlisberger 391 603 4402 31 14
Mason Rudolph 14 22 170 1 0

Attempts a bit down for Roethlisberger, even over 17 games, which would be a welcomed sight for an offense that will hopefully run the ball more effectively this year. His YPA jumps from 6.3 a year ago to 7.3, a sign he’ll push the ball downfield more under Matt Canada. Projecting out a healthy season for Roethlisberger leaves little for Rudolph here.

Running Back

Player Carries Yards YPC TD
Najee Harris 295 1241 4.2 11
Benny Snell 59 218 3.7 2
Anthony McFarland 62 267 4.3 1
Kalen Ballage 41 164 4.0 1
Chase Claypool 15 88 5.9 1

To an extent, I think we’re underestimating what Harris’ stats will be this year. 295 carries is only 17 carries a game. There will be contests in which he has 20+ this year. And even averaging 4.0 YPC puts him very close to 1200 yards rushing. Keep in mind James Conner never averaged worse than 4.0 YPC in his Steelers’ career and averaged 4.3 last season despite an ugly offensive line. 4.2 is more than reasonable for a talented back like Harris.

I can see Claypool be used a fair amount as a jet/motion player and get a chunk play off it.

Wide Receiver/Tight End

Player Catches Yards YPC TD
JuJu Smith-Schuster 86 936 10.9 7
Diontae Johnson 81 991 12.2 6
Chase Claypool 65 902 13.9 7
Najee Harris 52 422 8.1 2
Eric Ebron 43 439 10.2 4
James Washington 21 310 14.8 2
Pat Freiermuth 28 240 8.9 3

 

Numbers down across the board with the Steelers throwing less than last season. YPC up on JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson but their receptions being down keep their yards down. Having so many weapons makes it hard for one guy to put up huge numbers too.

Harris comes semi-close to breaking Claypool’s record for receptions by a rookie but he doesn’t quite get all the way there. Ebron’s numbers come down a bit because of Freiermuth, who should sit right at that 30-reception mark. Washington is used as a vertical, Z-receiver for some big, downfield plays.

Sacks

Player Sacks
TJ Watt 17
Cam Heyward 8.5
Alex Highsmith 6.5
Stephon Tuitt 5
Melvin Ingram 4.5

 

Watt sets the franchise record for sacks, averaging at least one sack per game. These five alone come out to 41.5 sacks. Steelers would need 8.5 sacks from the rest of the group to reach 50 again, which seems attainable.

Interceptions

Player INTs
Minkah Fitzpatrick 6
Joe Haden 3
James Pierre 3
Cam Sutton 2
Terrell Edmunds 1

 

Projecting a big year from Fitzpatrick with his six interceptions. James Pierre might be a bit up-and-down but he’ll make some big plays in coverage with his projected three INTs.

Record

Gonna get yelled at for this one. Predicting the Steelers to go 9-8. This team better play better in December and January than they have over the last three seasons. Tough division, tough schedule, questionable offensive line puts me at nine wins. Have them making the playoffs as the 7th seed and getting bounced in the first round with another disappointing season. Ben Roethlisberger retires six days after the season.

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