2021 South Side Questions: Can Steelers Still Realistically Make Playoffs?

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 are starting.

There isn’t much left to do but to play the games at this point. Even if they play them poorly. 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 still realistically make the playoffs?

The Steelers were humiliated yesterday by the Cincinnati Bengals, 41-10, in a game that may not have even been as close as the final score indicates. After all, it was 31-3 by halftime. Yet the point differential is meaningless—whether by five or 50, it only counts as one loss.

That loss does leave Pittsburgh sitting at 5-5-1 for the season, a .500 record, which is…not great. And yet…and yet…the 6-5 Los Angeles Chargers currently hold the seventh seed in the AFC. They are literally just a half-game out of a playoff seed as we sit here today, right now.

Of course, it’s not like they’re currently eighth. The Las Vegas Raiders and the Denver Broncos are also 6-5, and the Indianapolis Colts are 6-6, as are the Cleveland Browns. They are right smack in the middle of a logjam of mediocrity.

And they’ve already lost to the Chargers and Raiders. And their remaining schedule is…not favorable. They still have two more games against the Baltimore Ravens. They play the Kansas City Chiefs. They play the Tennessee Titans. Who right now thinks they’re going to win any of those games?

It’s easy to beat up the team after taking a loss like yesterday afternoon’s absolute pantsing, but really, the Steelers are precipitously close from finishing this season with a losing record. They’re undoubtedly not going to be favored in the majority of their final six games, which also includes the Browns and the Minnesota Vikings.

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