With the NFL schedules finalized and the main transaction period of the offseason over and done with, Vegas has come out with their win totals for each NFL team. For the Steelers, that number is currently set at 7.5. While The Athletic’s Vic Tafur believes the Steelers will go under that mark, set by Vegas Insider and other oddsmakers, I think it’s a safe bet they can go over that number.
While Ben Roethlisberger is an all-time great quarterback, it’s no secret he was a shell of himself in his final few season, and his presence limited what the Steelers were able to do on offense. It’s no guarantee that QB Mitch Trubisky or QB Kenny Pickett will be better immediately, but the offense will look different and be less predictable which will be a plus because the defense will at least be kept on their toes. I also think it’s pretty safe to say that the improved offensive line will help out whoever the Pittsburgh starting quarterback is and help them look better than Roethlisberger did last season. OG James Daniels is a huge addition, while iOL Mason Cole provides starting experience at both center and guard which could potentially allow Pittsburgh to move iOL Kendrick Green back to his natural guard spot. Green’s struggles at center last season were well-documented, and I think moving him to guard would probably be best for Pittsburgh. A healthy guard in Kevin Dotson should also be a boost to Pittsburgh’s offensive line.
At receiver, the Steelers lost WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, but he was out the majority of last season with an injury, while rookie WR George Pickens will likely be an upgrade over WR James Washington, while fellow rookie WR Calvin Austin III will hopefully be able to at least replicate the rule WR Ray-Ray McCloud played last season. Across the board, I think the Steelers are a better offensive team than the one last season that Pittsburgh to a 9-7-1 finish and a playoff berth.
Looking at the schedule, there’s no stretches that could absolutely doom the Steelers. While the first six games are difficult, the Steelers’ defense is good enough that they shouldn’t finish any worse than 2-4 during that stretch. That’s followed up by three straight winnable games (at Miami, at Philadelphia, and then vs. New Orleans after the bye). If Pittsburgh takes two of those games, and then you pencil in wins against both Atlanta and Carolina, you’re looking at six wins. It’s not unrealistic to expect a split against Baltimore and Cincinnati or a win against the Raiders, which would bring Pittsburgh to eight wins.
It makes sense why the oddsmakers would have Pittsburgh at 7.5 wins given the relative uncertainty on offense and who might start at quarterback, but this team still has one of the best defenses in the league and made upgrades on both sides of the ball. LB Myles Jack will be an upgrade over Joe Schobert, while CB Levi Wallace adds a physical element to Pittsburgh’s secondary that fans at Heinz Field will love. Obviously, T.J. Watt returns to build off his Defensive Player of the Year season in 2022, and if Stephon Tuitt returns, Pittsburgh will have another experienced and talented defensive lineman to pair with Cam Heyward and Tyson Alualu in his return from injury. With this defense and the improvements made on offense, I can’t see this team winning less than eight games.
Let us know in the comments if you think the Steelers will surpass their projected win total this season.