The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Steelers will finish the 2021 regular season with a .500 record.
Explanation: The running gag with Steelers fans, particularly among those who don’t really care for him, is that head coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season—but he has had three 8-8 seasons, and has missed the playoffs altogether five times. With the expansion of the regular season to 17 games, it requires a rare tie to actually finish at .500—8-8-1.
They’re only two games away from .500, and who actually thinks that the Steelers are going to win two games in a row? They won four games in a row, but other than that haven’t been able to stack wins. And they’re 2-4-1 since then, anyway.
Both the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns, their final two opponents, are similarly bad teams right now. But they’ll likely defeat one and lose to the other. Which one is which? I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be losing to the Cleveland Browns, courtesy of Nick Chubb.
Then again, the Ravens will be much better than they were this week assuming they get Lamar Jackson back this week, who has missed the past two games due to what originally looked like a pretty minor ankle injury.
This is a Steelers team that can just as easily win or lose both of the final two games, so if I’m playing the odds, I would take a sweep in either direction over the split. While it might be tough to sell a pair of victories right now, keep in mind they just lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, the best team in the AFC.
Baltimore, meanwhile, has no secondary, and Baker Mayfield isn’t giving the Browns the chance to win. Cleveland is 2-4 in its last six games. So is Baltimore, including losing four straight.
Of course, it’s equally likely that the return of Jackson prompts them to reverse that pattern, and as mentioned, the Browns can ride Chubb to victory. So, again, it’s just as likely, if not more so, that both games break in the same direction as one another as it is that one favors them and the other doesn’t.