The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-6 exiting the bye week, but here’s why there’s actually something they can do that’s more important than a win vs the Saints.
When the Pittsburgh Steelers entered their Week 9 bye at 2-6, the fan base was split on the direction they want this team to take moving forward. Mathematically, Mike Tomlin’s team isn’t eliminated from the playoffs, but things are looking grim, to say the least.
This isn’t one of those scenarios where there’s a lot to feel good about at 2-6 either. It’s not like other teams have just barely topped the Steelers in regulation this year or that Pittsburgh has been losing games they should have won.
This might pain you to hear this if you are not already aware, but the Steelers are just a bad football team this year. As get set to play the New Orleans Saints in Week 10, Pittsburgh sits at a dismal -77 in point differential. Their average loss of 9.6 points makes them the least competitive team in the league, according to ESPN stats.
This is obviously the last thing we want to see, as it shows that the team we’ve seen in the first half of the season simply cannot go toe-to-toe with competent teams in the NFL right now. Rejuvenating after the bye and getting T.J. Watt could help, but it’s not going to be enough to make a playoff push.
The Steelers could technically go 7-2 from here on out and still miss the playoffs, so when it comes to their game against the Saints this week, there is something Pittsburgh can show that is more important than winning the football game.
A strong Pickett showing is more important than a Steelers win
Disagree with me if you will, but considering the state of this team right now, there’s no question I would rather see a strong performance by Kenny Pickett in a heart-breaking loss rather than another questionable showing from Pickett and Pittsburgh squeak by with a win. This would not be encouraging.
Now that Pittsburgh has taken the quarterback they believe will be the future of the franchise, nothing is more important than his growth and development at this point. I would rather have the Steelers losing hard-fought football games with Pickett taking a big step forward rather than winning games and not seeing progress.
Though he has only played in five games until this point, Pickett is dead last in the NFL in yards per attempt, adjusted yards per attempt, and quarterback rating. His 8 interceptions on just 165 attempts is also very concerning at this point.
Against the Saints, I would love to see a game where Pickett throws for nearly 8.0 yards per attempt with a passer rating topping 100. This might be wishful thinking, but we need to see signs of life from the rookie who is currently averaging 5.8 yards per attempt and a 66.8 passer rating.
In addition, a Steelers win at this point could actually hurt a team like Pittsburgh starving for talent. If the season were to end right now, the Steelers would own the 4th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft… and they legitimately deserve to have one of the top picks this year. Not only that, but they would be picking high in the second round as well — owning the 35th overall pick and the 39th overall pick (via Chicago in the Chase Claypool trade).
Winning is obviously the goal in the NFL, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are simply in no position to be a competitive football team this year with their talent lacking and their coaching not getting the job done. An impressive, encouraging game from Kenny Pickett against the Saints is honestly more important to the future of this team than a win at this point.