The Steelers just saw their most convincing win of the season over the New Orleans Saints, but now is not the time to get complacent.
The other day, I feared that the Steelers were entering a game that could result in them hitting their lowest point of the year. But in retrospect, I feel that I had perhaps not given them enough credit.
On Sunday, Pittsburgh shut down the New Orleans Saints in a 20-10 home victory, giving the former its third win of the season. In the process, it also saw its most convincing win so far, as the game was Pittsburgh’s first to be decided by more than three points.
While the battle may have left a lot to be desired in regard to statistical performances, the team still proved that it can work well enough on both sides of the ball to prevail. No matter what else one takes away from this last weekend, that is indisputably a large step in the right direction.
But a step forward, while important, is far from enough when considering how much more improvement is needed to get Steelers fans comfortable with their team again. With that said, getting comfortable is the absolute last thing that the Steelers themselves can afford to do right now.
I refuse to go on some rant about how we Steelers fans have some ridiculously high, Super Bowl-level standards, as Pittsburgh has not even sniffed that tier in over a decade. Nowadays, I totally understand the humble mentality of happily taking a win wherever you can get one. However, this win is merely not one to get hung up on—but what if this upcoming Sunday sees a Steelers win as well?
What can this weekend do for the Steelers?
Next Sunday, Pittsburgh will be hosting the Cincinnati Bengals, the defending AFC champs.
For context, the Bengals are not the rough-n-tough squad that they were last season, holding an unimpressive 5-4 record today. Not only that, but they also felt the wrath of the Steelers back in what was a rather ugly Week 1 contest.
In said contest, Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow threw a horrendous four interceptions while running back Joe Mixon was heavily stifled on the rushing attack. Combining all of that with Pittsburgh both hosting and coming off of a win, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario that would have the yinzers shaking in their boots over this next one—that is until we look at some more context.
Unfortunately, the Bengals have changed a lot since the Steelers downed them back in September. Referring back to our aforementioned Cincinnati stars, Burrow has only thrown two picks over the course of his eight games since Week 1. As for Mixon, his latest game saw him at his best, as he amassed 211 total yards en route to a 5-touchdown performance (four of which were obtained on the ground).
So yeah, it’s a safe bet that Pittsburgh will be seeing a different type of Cincy offense this time around, especially with it coming off of a bye week.
I hate to be a mood-killer on what now feels like a weekly basis, but it would be simply foolish to get cocky about anything entering this weekend. As I said, Pittsburgh still has a steep climb ahead of it, and while beating New Orleans was a pleasant start, sweeping the Bengals may show some of the consistency that Steelers fans have been craving for a long time.