Steelers' Win-Loss Predictions for 2022 NFL Season
The Pittsburgh Steelers remain one of the NFL's marquee franchises both because of their storied history (six Lombardi Trophies) and their sustained success.
As readers have likely heard multiple times, Pittsburgh hasn't had a losing season since Mike Tomlin was hired as head coach in 2007.
For the first time since he was hired, though, Pittsburgh is facing a transitional campaign. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired in the offseason, and the Steelers have a new general manager and new defensive coordinator in Omar Khan and Teryl Austin, respectively.
While no one should expect an embarrassing season in Pittsburgh—the Steelers were a playoff team in 2021—it's fair to wonder just how competitive it can be amid all of the changes. That's what we're here to examine.
Below, we'll dive into what's ahead for the Steelers and how we expect them to fare in 2022.
Steelers' 2022 Schedule
Week 1: at Cincinnati Bengals
Week 2: New England Patriots
Week 3: at Cleveland Browns
Week 4: New York Jets
Week 5: at Buffalo Bills
Week 6: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 7: at Miami Dolphins
Week 8: at Philadelphia Eagles
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: New Orleans Saints
Week 11: Cincinnati Bengals
Week 12: at Indianapolis Colts
Week 13: at Atlanta Falcons
Week 14: Baltimore Ravens
Week 15: at Carolina Panthers
Week 16: Las Vegas Raiders
Week 17: at Baltimore Ravens
Week 18: Cleveland Browns
Analysis and Expectations
For the Steelers, a lot is going to hinge on quarterback play—as it does for every team. Right now, though, we don't know whether it will be veteran Mitch Trubisky or rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett under center to start the season.
Trubisky, who has a 29-21 starting record, has long seemed the logical option if the Steelers hope to return to the postseason. However, Pickett has impressed during the preseason.
Against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2, the 24-year-old went 6-of-7 for 76 yards and a touchdown. There's a legitimate chance that he claims the starting job before the preseason is at an end.
If the Steelers can get quality play from their quarterback(s), they should be relevant in the AFC North. Pittsburgh had a serviceable defense (20th in points allowed) last season and offensive weapons like Najee Harris, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and rookie wideout George Pickens.
However, the Steelers aren't widely expected to win the division. In a poll of Bleacher Report NFL experts in July, Pittsburgh didn't receive a single vote to win the division. Rather, it was the Cincinnati Bengals narrowly outpacing the Baltimore Ravens 3-2.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Steelers have the longest odds to win the division at 10-1. The Ravens are the favorites at +140 (bet $100 to win $140), while the Bengals and Cleveland Browns are +170 and +380, respectively.
In fact, Vegas oddsmakers seem to believe Pittsburgh could experience its first losing season under Tomlin. The Steelers' over/under for wins is set at only 7.5.
This feels ridiculously low for a franchise that hasn't won fewer than eight games since 2003. Finishing above .500 will be a challenge, though.
Aside from the uncertainty at quarterback, Pittsburgh has a couple of substantial hurdles in front of it. The first is an offensive line that was rather bad in 2021 and hasn't appeared substantially better this preseason.
Last year, the line allowed 38 sacks and yielded a rushing attack that ranked 29th in both yards and yards per carry. Tomlin expressed frustration with the new-look line—a unit that now includes James Daniels and Mason Cole—following Saturday's preseason win.
"We got to do a better job of protecting [Trubisky] and having some semblance of a running game if you want a fair evaluation," he told reporters. "And I'm just being bluntly honest."
It won't matter much who is under center if Pittsburgh's line is a liability.
The other challenge is a tough schedule that features seven games against 2021 playoff teams. Several teams that were good last year but didn't make the playoffs, like the Indianapolis Colts, Ravens and New Orleans Saints, are also on the slate.
Only three games—against the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers—look like potential "easy" wins.
Overall, Pittsburgh is tied for the 12th-toughest schedule in terms of opponents' 2021 winning percentage (.512).
However, if the Steelers can solidify their offensive line—and a run defense that ranked last in 2021—they're going to steal a few games in which they're underdogs. This has been the trend under Tomlin and why Pittsburgh just doesn't finish in the AFC basement.
This may be a transition year for the team, but it isn't going to result in the sort of four- or five-win season we often see when other franchises rebuild.
Are the Steelers going to be legitimate title contenders in 2022? Perhaps not. However, it would be a complete shock to see them truly flounder. The prediction here is that we'll see some good, some bad and another non-losing season.
Win-Loss Prediction: 9-8
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