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 season below .500, for the first time since 2003.
Explanation: The Steelers currently sit at .500 through 11 games, which isn’t easy to do, but thanks to a tie against a winless team, they have a 5-5-1 record. Their remaining schedule includes four out of six games against AFC playoff teams, all division leaders. Only the Minnesota Vikings have a losing record.
The Steelers are most likely going to be favored to lose in at least four of their final six games, including both games against the Baltimore Ravens, as well as the games against the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs.
That’s the starting point. They obviously need to win at least one of these four games in order to finish with at least a .500 record, which of course would not be impressive. Given the way that the 8-3 Ravens have repeatedly found ways to win games this year, I would not bet it being against them.
The Chiefs also appear to be past their early-season yips, and the Titans have proven to be resilient in the absence of the loss of Derrick Henry. And even if they manage to win one of those games, they could still lose to the Cleveland Browns, as they did twice at the end of last season. It’s not like they can stop the run.
Mike Tomlin’s teams typically respond when their backs are against the well. They have had some really bad starts to seasons before, and have at least salvaged a .500 record. They did it in 2013 when they started 0-4. They did it in 2019, with backup quarterbacks, with a 1-4 start. Even in 2018, they started out 1-2-1, then won six straight games.
This doesn’t mean that the Steelers will actually be good, or even make the playoffs. This just means that they will win at least three of their final six games and finish at least at 8-8-1. Another non-losing season. Hooray.
The Ravens have been tempting fate all year. They’re bound to drop one, and frankly, injuries are mounting for them. Their offensive line is banged up yet again. The Steelers should win at least one of two games against them.