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: Can the Steelers win the TOX stat versus the Packers?
A fairly accurate barometer for whether or not a team will win a game is how they fared in the TOX stat. TOX combines explosive plays and takeaways into one figure. Typically, if a team is able to tally two more than their opponent, they have a very high degree of likelihood of winning the game.
That won’t be easy to do for the Steelers against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. For starters, Rodgers is the most secure passer in NFL history. He literally has the lowest interception percentage of all qualifying quarterbacks, ever. And the defense has not been turning the ball over this year, either, just two in three games.
Ben Roethlisberger, meanwhile, has thrown three interceptions so far, though they haven’t lost a fumble yet. They’ve only fumbled three times, Roethlisberger being two of them. Conversely, the Packers defense has four takeaways this year.
The Steelers’ offense, meanwhile, is nearly incapable of breaking off a 20-yard run, while the deep ball has been sporadic. Rodgers tosses Hail Marys with the flick of a wrist. It is, frankly, very hard to imagine them pulling out a TOX win today, and with or without it, a real win. But in order to win the game, they’ll almost surely have to win the TOX differential as well.