To say that the Jets game on Sunday is a must win for the Steelers is a bit of an understatement. The following five games will be an absolutely brutal stretch for this team. A loss on Sunday could easily leave the Steelers at 1-7 heading into the bye in late October. This team is in serious jeopardy of having its first losing season since 2003. Let’s take a look at he rest of the schedule to see what they are up against.
The Next Five:
The Pittsburgh Steelers are about to embark on the toughest stretch of their schedule by far. After what has to be considered a must win against the Jets at home on Sunday, it gets ridiculous for this team. They travel to Buffalo, then home for the Buccaneers, before they hit the road for games at Philadelphia and at Miami.
Even if we pencil in a W for this week’s Jets game, how many more wins can we see this team getting during this stretch? The game at Buffalo seems like a sure loss at this point. The Buccaneers at home is a spot where the Steelers could steal a win. But the way the Bucs defense is playing, combined with the nightmare that is Tom Brady makes that a shaky proposition at best. Many believe the Eagles are the best team in the NFL right now. It’s difficult to see Pittsburgh winning there, or in Miami who also also one of the two remaining undefeated teams left in the NFL.
The absolute best case scenario coming out of this is possibly 3-5 heading into the bye. In all honesty the way this team is performing it is more likely to be 2-6.
The Middle Four:
The schedule lightens up significantly during this stretch. The hope is this team will have a healthy TJ Watt back by this time at the very latest. Who knows, maybe even a change at quarterback too for the second half of the season. We went over this type of silver lining scenario in our Steelers Sanctuary Podcast here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1981237/11403266
The Steelers come out of the bye with a game at home versus the Saints. New Orleans is not a good football team, and this game is at home. Pencil this one in for a W. Next is a rematch with the Cincinnati Bengals. Can we expect another five turnovers from the Bengals this time? If not, the Steelers will be in trouble this time. They wrap up this stretch with a couple of very winnable road games at Indianapolis, and at Atlanta. The Colts are a bit concerning given thay have one of the best running backs in football in Jonathan Taylor. This teams struggles defending the run are well documented. We have to think this ends up being a 2-2 stretch, leaving the team at 4-8 at this point.
The Final Five:
The Steelers wrap up the season with three games out of five against AFC North opponents. This stretch will make or break the 2022 season.
We start out with a home game versus the arch rival Baltimore Ravens. Followed by a winnable game at Carolina, before the big Christmas Eve Immaculate Reception anniversary game against the Raiders. Pittsburgh wraps up the season at Baltimore, and home against the Browns.
The Pittsburgh Steelers would have to go 4-0-1 at the minimum to keep their “no losing seasons” streak” alive by our estimations. We know Mike Tomlin likes to “unleash hell” in December, but it has been some time since he actually followed through on that. The optimist could give the team a 4-1 record down the stretch. The realist says 3-2 would be the ceiling here. Either way, when you break down this team’s remaining schedule it is hard them finishing above five hundred.
Our most likely outcome is for the Steelers 2022 season is 7-10. It’s not too far off from the 9-8 record we predicted, but very disappointing never the less. Ten Steelers predictions for the 2022 season
The near twenty years streak of finishing over five hundred will almost certainly come to an end in 2022. Perhaps with all the change, we should have seen this coming. The first season without Ben Roethlisberger at the helm is playing out pretty much as expected for anyone not biased to the team. Hopefully 2023 can start another streak with a new quarterback, and hopefully a new coordinator to kick start the offense.