The Steelers two-year playoff drought will end in the 2020 season
The Steelers have not played in a playoff game since January 14, 2018. In that game, they lost in the divisional round to the Jacksonville Jaguars, with a final score of 45-42. They have not actually won a playoff game since January 15, 2017, where they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs with a final score of 18-16. In 2020, the drought will finally get some much-needed rain.
The return of Ben Roethlisberger will work wonders for the Steelers offense and playoff picture. In the 2019 season, the Steelers ranked 30th in passing offense and threw the third least passing touchdowns (only Broncos and Panthers threw for less than 18). They struggled to move the ball with the inexperienced pair of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges throwing to a young receiving core.
In Roethlisberger’s last full season with the Steelers (2018 season), he threw for 34 touchdowns, 5,129 yards, and was awarded his sixth pro bowl appearance. He is undoubtedly a future Hall of Famer and a veteran to the game. His experience and leadership will prove dividends in what is expected to be high firepower offense this season.
Offense sells tickets, defense wins games
The Steelers defense was by far the brightest spot of their 2019 season. The talent on the roster was tremendous, filled with first-round picks everywhere. The defense as a whole only allowed 3,113 yards (third-fewest) and 23 touchdowns (seventh fewest). They also forced 20 interceptions and recovered 18 fumbles, totaling 38 forced turnovers.
The defense could also always be counted on to get to the opposing quarterbacks. They had a 30.5% pressure rate (highest in the NFL) with 180 pressures. Quarterbacks left the games trembling in fear from the steel curtain. Their high-pressure rate also led them to 54 registered sacks (highest in the NFL).
People can expect the same defense in 2020, with every big-name player returning, aside from Javon Hargrave. Whereas that might seem like a big deal, the defense will be getting a phenomenal player back in Stephon Tuitt.
Depth on the defensive line is very thin, but if everyone can stay healthy, they will be the same force that is not to be reckoned with. They are surely a top-five defense in the NFL and will be seeking the unanimous number one spot by the end of the 2020 season.
Easy schedule, easy life
Easier schedules can make all the difference for all competing NFL teams. This year, the Steelers definitely caught a break in that aspect. They play the NFC East and AFC South this season, two mediocre divisions.
The Steelers will hold the season with the second easiest schedule in the NFL, behind only the Ravens. Their opponent win percentage from last season is below .500, coming in at .457 (4.38 for Ravens). The teams they will face had an actual combined record of 117-139. This will play a huge role in the playoff hopes for Steelers fans.
There is too much talent, skill, and important factors in favor of the 2020 Steelers to miss the playoffs for a third straight season. Expect them to make some noise and open the eyes of many doubters this year.