The Detroit Lions play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday, and they have a lot of history on their backs. The Lions haven’t won in Pittsburgh since Eisenhower was in office. That’s 1955 for those of you who weren’t aware of when Eisenhower was president. Don’t worry, I had to look it up too.
The Steelers are 5-3 and it just feels like you hear nothing about them. The football world is caught up in things with the Packers, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Rogan, Patrick Mahomes turnover issues, trying to make Justin Fields a thing and the Rams. With all that going on, it begs the question, are the Steelers good?
1. It feels like we don’t hear anything about the Steelers these days. Are they sneakily good?
“The Steelers are under the radar based on the fact they had a slow start to the season. They followed up their Week 1 road win over the Buffalo Bills with a three game losing streak. During that stretch they lost to the Las Vegas Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers, two of those three games were at home. Sporting a 1-3 record, they were left for dead by most national media outlets. What they’ve done since is rattle off four straight wins, and are now 5-3. For some reason, most don’t put much credence into the Steelers’ record, viewing them as one of those teams who are playing above their level. I don’t know if I’d call the Steelers sneakily good, but they are an above average team who is improving weekly in a lot of ways.”
2. What are their strengths?
“On offense the Steelers’ strength this season has been balance between the run and pass. It might sound strange to some, but the past three seasons the Steelers have been one of the more unbalanced teams, relying heavily on the pass to move the ball and win games. Now, with Najee Harris running the ball the team doesn’t have to rely on Ben Roethlisberger throwing his way to victory.
On defense the strength resides in the pass rush. Whether it is Cam Heyward from the interior, or T.J. Watt on the edge, this team is built around putting pressure on the quarterback. The Steelers have 22 sacks through seven eight games, and if they can get steady contributions from players like Alex Highsmith and Taco Charlton those numbers could increase rapidly.”
3. What are their weaknesses?
“On offense the weakness is the offensive line being young, inexperienced and inconsistent. When the line is clicking and giving Roethlisberger time to throw, everything is available offensively. If the line doesn’t hold up, like they did during the three-game losing streak, every snap is a struggle.
On defense, the weakness would be the team struggling to stop the run on occasion. When the run fits are on point, and the Steelers’ defense is elite by making a team one-dimensional. They have given up 109 yards per game on the ground, and while this isn’t a staggering statistic it is one of the few weaknesses on a very stout defense.”
4. Will Ben Roethlisberger ever retire?
“Ben Roethlisberger is not Tom Brady in a lot of ways, and that includes longevity. Roethlisberger could be in the final year of his contract, but the Steelers could also bring him back. They have the option with the void years built into his deal. A lot will depend on how Roethlisberger feels after this season, as well as how he performs down the stretch. If the Steelers’ offensive line continues to improve, and the team has the look of a championship team I could see Roethlisberger wanting to come back in 2022 for one more shot at it, but that’s if the Steelers want him back.”
5. Who’s winning this thing?
“If the Steelers had blown the doors off the Bears on MNF I would think this is a classic trap game. However, the Steelers played poorly enough they should realize they can’t overlook anyone. I think the Steelers will make enough plays to win, but this team doesn’t blow anyone out. I expect it to be close in the second half before the defense makes a big play which turns the tide.