How good are the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022? That is, of course, the question that fans are anxiously contemplating—the anxiety always increased when introducing a rookie quarterback into the mold. If you go by Seth Walder’s Football Power Index—whatever that is, exactly—then you might as well pack it in now and wait for 2023.
As the ESPN sports analytics writer explains, the Football Power Index is a predictive model with a rating indicating “approximately how much better or worse — in points — that team is predicted to be, relative to an average NFL team on a neutral field”. If you’re really that interested in understanding the depth of nuance that goes into this fictitious system, you can read more details here.
The Steelers are approximately 7.5 points worse than an average NFL team on a neutral field, this year. And they play more road games than home games, so that’s even worse, apparently. While the Carolina Panthers are also rated at -7.5, they are ranked 25th overall, and the Steelers are ranked 26th.
Their big hit comes on offense. They have a horrendous offensive power index rating of -8.7, which presumably means that their offense on a neutral field is worth 8.7 fewer points than the average NFL offense on a neutral field. The only offenses rated lower are the New York Jets, the Chicago Bears, and the Atlanta Falcons.
On the flip side, they have among the highest-rated defenses, but apparently defenses don’t move the needle very much. Their defense is rated as 1.3 points better, fifth-best behind the Los Angeles Rams, the Buffalo Bills, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What’s more, the Steelers are projected to go about 7-10, based on their data, or rather, 6.5-10.3. They are given just a 19.9 percent chance of reaching the postseason, as well, and an 8.6 percent chances of winning the AFC North. They have a 1 percent chance of winning the Super Bowl.
This model rates the Cleveland Browns as having the best chance of winning the division, in fact a 35.2 percent chance, with a projected record of about 10-7. The Baltimore Ravens have a 31.8 percent chance with a projected record of 9-8 when rounded. The Cincinnati Bengals’ record ultimately rounds to the same, but on the wrong side of nine wins before rounding. They have a 24.4 percent chance of winning the division.
So what does all of this mean? Just what you were thinking, of course: nothing. There’s simply not enough information to go on to really predict how well or poorly the Steelers will do this year. They haven’t experienced this much change in practically a generation.