Steelers road to a perfect season: A game-by-game prediction of Pittsburgh’s final seven matchups

Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers are in uncharted territory. For the first time in the franchise’s 87-year history, Pittsburgh is undefeated through nine games after the Steelers breezed by the Bengals Sunday at Heinz Field.

Buoyed by Roethlisberger’s return, the arrival of offensive newcomers Chase Claypool and Eric Ebron and the continued stellar play of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro and Alejandro Villanueva, the Steelers boast the NFL’s third-ranked scoring offense. Pittsburgh’s defense, led by T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, Cam Heyward, Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick, is No. 3 in the league in scoring and first in sacks and turnovers forced. Pittsburgh’s special teams has been led by Chris Boswell, who has made all but two of his 45 field goal attempts since the start of last season. 

The Steelers’ success in all three phases has allowed them to build a three-game lead in the AFC North. The Steelers have a one-game lead over the defending champion Chiefs for the race to secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed. The top seed is the more important than ever this season, as it will be the only team that receives a first round bye in the NFL’s expanded postseason. 

Pittsburgh, the first team to start 9-0 since the 2015 Panthers, are looking to become the first team since the 2009 Saints to win the Super Bowl after a 9-0 start. And while claiming a seventh Lombardi Trophy is top priority, the Steelers surely wouldn’t mind making history if they were to join the 1972 Dolphins as the NFL’s only perfect teams. With that in mind, we decided to predict the outcome of each of the Steelers’ seven remaining regular season games. 

Week 11: at Jacksonville 

The Jaguars, 1-8 through nine games, put a scare into the Packers this past Sunday before Green Bay prevailed, 24-20. While they’ll have to contain running back James Robinson and receivers D.J. Chark and Keelan Cole, the Steelers should be able to defeat a Jaguars team that will be starting quarterback Jake Luton, who completed just 51.4% of his passes against the Packers. The Steelers’ offense also shouldn’t have many issues against a Jaguars defense that is 31st in the NFL in scoring. Sunday would be a good time for the Steelers to re-establish their rushing attack against the Jaguars’ 25th ranked run defense. 

Result: Win  

Record: 10-0 

Week 12: Ravens (Thanksgiving Day) 

The sky appears to be falling in Baltimore. After going 14-2 in 2019, reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson and his teammates have failed to live up to expectations thus far in 2020. After a 5-1 start, Baltimore is 1-2 over its last three games that includes a 28-24 loss at the hands of the Steelers in Week 8. After taking care of business against the Colts in Week 9, the Ravens fell to the Patriots in a game that was played during a monsoon on “Sunday Night Football.” 

While the Steelers’ defense had its way with Jackson during their first two matchups, something tells me that Jackson will get the better of the Steelers on Thanksgiving. Jackson will be aided by a Ravens’ rushing attack that features Mark Ingram and rookie J.K. Dobbins, who is the only player that has rushed for over 100 yards against the Steelers this season. In what should be another classic Steelers-Ravens game, Baltimore pulls it out while handing Pittsburgh its first defeat. 

Result: Loss 

Record: 10-1 

Week 13: Washington Football Team 

With nine days off and fresh off of their first loss, the Steelers shouldn’t have any issues dispatching a Washington team that is currently 2-7 after dropping a nail-biter in Detroit on Sunday. And while Pittsburgh’s offense may face some resistance against Washington’s top-ranked pass defense, the Steelers’ defense shouldn’t have any issues against a Washington offense that is currently 29th in scoring. 

Result: Win 

Record: 11-1 

Week 14: at Buffalo 

In Week 15 of the 2019 season, Pittsburgh nearly defeated a playoff bound Buffalo team despite having Delvin “Duck” Hodges under center. While the Bills’ defense isn’t what it was last season, Buffalo’s offense, led by quarterback Kyle Allen and newcomer Stefon Diggs, is spearheading an offense that is currently fifth in the league in passing and second in third-down conversions. While Allen will offer a unique challenge for Pittsburgh’s defense, the Steelers’ offense should have success against a Bills’ defense that has allowed at least 28 points five times this season. 

Result: Win 

Record: 12-1 

Week 15: at Cincinnati 

Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft, pinned Sunday’s 36-10 loss on his shoulders after he misfired on several passes during the second half. Burrow will be motivated to play better the second time around, but it probably won’t be enough to topple the Steelers. This game will not only be Round 2 between Big Ben and Burrow, it will feature two of the NFL’s top rookie receivers in Chase Claypool and Tee Higgins, who combined to catch 11 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. 

Result: Win Record: 13-1 

Week 16: Indianapolis 

The Steelers are very familiar with the Colts and their new quarterback Philip Rivers. Pittsburgh has faced — and beaten — the Colts five times during the previous six seasons. Pittsburgh lost a heartbreaker against Rivers and the Chargers in 2018 before defeating the veteran quarterback on his own turf last season. While the Colts (who are currently 6-3 and atop the AFC South) are a formidable foe, the Steelers should be able to take advantage of Rivers’ penchant for committing turnovers. The Colts turned the ball over twice in each of their three losses; how well they take care of the ball against Pittsburgh will likely help determine the outcome of this game. 

Result: Win 

Record: 14-1 

Week 17: at Cleveland 

For a myriad of reasons, I don’t think the Steelers will win this one. For starters, the Steelers, at 14-1, may not even need to win this game in order to lock up the No. 1 seed. The Chiefs, the Steelers’ biggest competition to grab the AFC’s top seed, have four remaining games against teams with winning records that includes this weekend’s game against the Raiders, who defeated the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium in Week 5. The Chiefs also have to travel to Tampa Bay in Week 12 before traveling to Miami to face the 6-3 Dolphins in Week 14. They then have to travel to New Orleans to face the 7-2 Saints before finishing the regular season with home games against the Falcons and Chargers. 

The Browns, 6-3 through nine games, may need to win this game in order to clinch their first playoff berth since 2002. Cleveland, barring injury, will have Nick Chubb this time around after Chubb missed the Browns’ 38-10 loss in Pittsburgh back in Week 6. And with Baker Mayfield and Jarvis Landry also playing through injuries, the Browns failed to keep pace with Pittsburgh. The Browns should be in a better position to win the rematch, as Mayfield, Chubb, Landry, and pass rusher Myles Garrett look to split their season series against the Steelers for the second consecutive year. 

Result: Loss

Record: 14-2 

A 14-2 record would tie the 1978 Steelers for the second-best regular season record in franchise history. The ’78 Steelers, whose 7-0 start was the best in franchise history before being surpassed by Pittsburgh’s current team, won the AFC’s No. 1 seed before defeating Denver, Houston and Dallas to win the franchise’s third Super Bowl in a five-year span. Pittsburgh’s current team will look to mimic the success of the ’78 Steelers while etching their own place in NFL lore in the process. 

Published: 2020-11-17 21:36:21

Tags: #Steelers #road #perfect #season #gamebygame #prediction #Pittsburghs #final #matchups


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