3 reasons Steelers are closer to the Super Bowl than we think

T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Steelers looked like they were on the verge of proving me right 3/4 of the way through 2020. 

I said at the start of one of the more unique football seasons we have ever seen that the Steelers would be able to make it to the big game. Well, short of some significant injuries it looked as though they were on their way to shocking the league. I remember going into the year a multitude of analysts and sports personalities had the Browns and Ravens projected higher in the division standings, yet the Steelers finished as the top seed in the division.

The season showed me what I already knew, if the Steelers maintain a balanced offensive attack there isn’t a team in the league that can beat them. They don’t have to run the ball down everyone else’s throats, they just need to focus on maintaining a good time of possession while forcing linebackers to commit to their running assignments so opposing linebackers can’t sit in zone taking away the short passing lanes.

This is the best defense in the league and no one can change my mind.

If you need an indicator of how special this defense is, then look at their matchup against Buffalo. The Bills finished the year 3rd in points per game scoring less than 2 points a game fewer than Green Bay who was ranked 1st.

While the defense was fresh in the first half they held Buffalo to only 9 points. This was against one of the best offenses in the league while missing their second-best pass rusher(Bud Dupree), both starting inside linebackers (Devin Bush and Vince Williams), their top backup inside linebacker(Robert Spillane), and their best coverage corner(Joe Haden). Not a lot of positions were affected, but all of the injuries to the linebackers for a team that is built around its front 7 are debilitating. Yet against one of the best offenses in the league, they held them under 10 points in the first half. Furthermore, the only points Pittsburgh scored in the first half were an interception returned for a touchdown.

It fell apart in the second half as the Bills took control of the clock and kept Blitzburgh on the field. Once the front 7 started wearing down from all of the extra time on the field in the first half the defense was worn out. Yet, if this defense stays fresh it is good enough to shut down any team in the league. Buffalo was the highest-scoring team in the AFC in 2020. Tampa Bay and Green Bay both barely edged out Buffalo in points. Of the top 6 scoring offenses in the AFC Pittsburgh played 4 of them. The only top 6 offenses the Steelers didn’t play in a game were Kansas City’s and the Steelers’ own offense.

This leads me to believe that even with the loss of Bud Dupree if the rest of the defense stays intact with higher quality depth added, it will continue its’ dominance.