The Pittsburgh Steelers seemed to have found some new life after the bye week, but is their recent surge just a hoax, or are they a new team?
The 2022 season has not been an easy one for Pittsburgh Steelers fans to stomach. For most of the year, we have dealt with a defense that can’t provide consistent pressure on the quarterback and a stagnant, predictable offense that struggles to move the chains.
However, over the past three weeks, something seems to have clicked. For the first time all season, Pittsburgh’s offense has shown signs of life, and this team finally seems to have a fire lit underneath them.
As a result, some raw numbers show that the Steelers have been a dramatically different team following their Week 9 bye. Over their first 8 games of the season, Mike Tomlin’s team managed just 14.1 offensive points per game while surrendering 24.6 PPG to their opponent. This equated to the league’s worst point differential of -77.
Over their last 3 games, however, Pittsburgh is surprisingly averaging 24.6 points per contest and has a point differential of +10, according to ESPN stats.
This is certainly a dramatic turnaround, but fans shouldn’t be celebrating the revival of this team just yet. There is still a lot that the Pittsburgh Steelers must prove.
Steelers aren’t a new team… yet
A three-game sample size is remarkably hard to judge following the bye week — especially when two of those teams are bottom-feeders like the Saints and Colts. In their only tough matchup since the bye against the Bengals, Pittsburgh allowed a whopping 37 points in the loss. This obviously has to be taken into consideration.
While it’s way too early to declare that Pittsburgh is a new team in the second half of the season, there are some reasons to believe that they could be trending that way soon.
Though the box score numbers haven’t been impressive from Kenny Pickett, the rookie quarterback has certainly played his best football since the mid-season break. In Week 12 against the Colts, Pickett recorded an overall grade of 88.5 via Pro Football Focus — his best of the season and the second-best mark among all NFL quarterbacks from Week 12.
All of the sudden, Pittsburgh’s offense seemed to have found new life, and we are finally starting to see the progression from our rookie quarterback that we all desired to see.
The hard part is going to be determining whether these changes are fraudulent or for real. After having the toughest schedule in the NFL leading up to their bye, Pittsburgh has one of the easiest schedules in the league down the stretch. This could make it hard to decipher whether or not they really have improved, or if they are simply seeing better results because of the lackluster opponents they are facing.
Either way, fans have a reason to be encouraged since the bye week. If Pickett can continue to improve and the Steelers keep winning, perhaps it’s possible Pittsburgh is becoming a new team as we approach the final stretch of the season.