Are the Steelers Contenders or Pretenders? By Josh Fromowitz
Image via twitter
The Pittsburg Steelers started off their 2020 season winning the first 11 games they played. A lot of people had them as Super Bowl favorites. But after dropping their last two games to the Washington Football Team and most recently the Buffalo Bills, a lot of people are speculating whether this team is capable of making a deep playoff run.
Granted the Steelers played both of those games shorthanded due to Covid, they did not look as sharp as they did when they started the year undefeated. They did not have Running Back James Connor in the loss to Washington, but he struggled in the Buffalo loss. 10 carries, 18 yards for the teams’ leading Running Back. Big Ben Roethlisberger also struggled in Buffalo as he threw for under 200 yards and had 2 interceptions. They also haven’t been able to get rookie star Receiver Chase Claypool the ball much recently as in the two losses, he has only has 5 catches for 50 yards. Claypool leads the team with 10 total Touchdowns, but he hasn’t found the End Zone since week 11.
The Steelers defense has carried them the entire season, they get a lot of takeaways, and capitalize on those takeaways. Prior to the losing streak, there was only one game where they failed to get a takeaway. And that was week 7 against the Titans, and they held Derrick Henry, possible MVP, to under 75 yards rushing. While the Steelers were able to take the ball away twice from Buffalo, they allowed more than 330 yards of total offense. Buffalo was on the field for 35 minutes. Its hard to win games, especially now late in the season, when your offense can not stay on the field, forcing the defense to give up big plays.
Assuming the Kansas City Chiefs win out the rest of their 3 games, they will be the lone AFC team with a first round bye, forcing the Steelers and the rest of the teams who make the playoffs to play and extra game to get to the Super Bowl. With the recent rise of the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and even the Las Vegas Raiders, these wildcard teams are looking to make a big run, and possibly take down the Steelers. Defense wins championships, no doubt, but if your offense can not stay on the field, and score points, you wont win the big games.
The AFC is very competitive this year, and even though the Steelers start to the season was historic, I do not think they can make a deep run unless they find some offensive help for Big Ben. The 38 year old quarterback has been getting a lot of inconsistent performances from the offensive skill positions. Connor giving 18 yards on the ground, Claypool’s 2 catches, even Juju Smith- Schuster has had games with less than 30 yards receiving. The Steelers defensive is one of the best in the league, no question, but in order to make a playoff run, Big Ben and his weapons need to start having consistent performances, or else the Chiefs, Bills or even one of the sleeper teams like the Dolphins will beat them in the playoffs.
(Pictured: Pittsburg Steelers Defense celebrating a defensive takeaway)
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