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: How will the AFC North standings look by Monday morning?
The Steelers have time to wait this week. They will be playing tomorrow night, while all three of their divisional opponents are in competition this afternoon. The Baltimore Ravens will be playing the Minnesota Vikings as they come out of their bye week, while the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals will be playing one another, each of them coming off of a loss.
With Pittsburgh winning last week and getting back over .500 at 4-3, they are in much better shape than they were a month ago. Only the Ravens at 5-2 are ahead of them in the loss column, up by just one game, so it’s not impossible that the Steelers end the week tied in record for first place in the division.
Both the Ravens and the Bengals play host this week against teams with worse records than them. They are favored to win, which is the opposite of what the Steelers would want. But both games are winnable for their opponents.
As for Pittsburgh, the team will be hosting the Chicago Bears, who are 3-5 on the season after dropping three straight games. Suffice it to say that rookie quarterback Justin Fields very much remains a work in progress, but they will have to concern themselves with containing him in the pocket. And they did beat the Bengals earlier this year.
By the end of the day, the AFC North could have two six-win teams, or two four-loss teams, and nobody with fewer losses than the Steelers. No matter what happens, however, it goes without saying that they must hold serve. They’re riding a three-game winning streak now, and they’d better get that to at least five before facing the Bengals and Ravens in back-to-back weeks.