Pittsburgh Steelers (3-6)
Schedule so far
Week 1 - vs. Titans - lost, 16-9
Week 2 - at Bengals - lost, 20-10
Week 3 - vs. Bears - lost, 40-23
Week 4 - at Vikings (in London) - lost, 34-27
Week 6 - at Jets - won, 19-6
Week 7 - vs. Ravens - won, 19-16
Week 8 - at Raiders - lost, 21-18
Week 9 - at Patriots - lost, 55-31
Week 10 - vs. Bills - won, 23-10
Reason for optimism
The Steelers offense has had a lot of issues this season. Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 2,534 yards, but he's only got 13 touchdowns to go along with 15 turnovers (10 interceptions and 5 lost fumbles). On top of that, he's been sacked a whopping 35 times already this season (among the most in the NFL). By comparison, Matthew Stafford has taken only 10 sacks (fewest in the NFL), and he's thrown 19 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions (with 2 lost fumbles as well).
To make matters even worse for the Steelers, their running game is pretty bad. Le'Veon Bell has 339 yards and 4 touchdowns on 102 carries, which is good for an average of 3.3 yards per carry. For the Lions, Reggie Bush has averaged 4.7 yards per carry on 133 attempts, and Joique Bell has 3.8 yards per carry on 72 attempts. Pittsburgh's offense is just not very efficient.
Reason for pessimism
Since starting 0-4, the Steelers have been playing much better. They've won three of their last five games and shut down the offenses of the Jets, Ravens and Bills in the process. None of those teams have an offense like the Lions, but Pittsburgh has at least showed an ability to win games over the course of the last month. That wasn't the case for the first month of the season.
Storyline to watch
Despite having a 3-6 record, the Steelers could really get themselves back into the mix for the AFC North title with a win on Sunday. That seems like an odd thing to say given their record, but with four of their final six games coming against divisional opponents, the Steelers aren't out of this race just yet. The first-place Bengals are only 6-4, and if Pittsburgh can get hot down the stretch, it could set up an interesting finish in the AFC North. If the Steelers lose on Sunday, though, it may be time to truly shift into draft mode for people in Pittsburgh.
For more on the Steelers, check out Behind the Steel Curtain.