7 dream scenarios for the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2024 season

Expectations are always sky-high in Pittsburgh. If these scenarios come true in 2024, Steelers fans will come away quite pleased.
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals
Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Let's be real, the dream scenario for the Pittsburgh Steelers is winning Super Bowl LIX. While it's not impossible, that scenario is fairly far from probable.

Nonetheless, the franchise is long overdue for some positive outcomes without any strings attached. Several things can happen in 2024 that will make Pittsburgh fans the happiest they've been since 2017 - and maybe even happier.

Let's look ahead to the dream scenarios that could make for an incredible 2024 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

1. Russell Wilson Looks Like the Guy from Seattle

Russell Wilson has had a severe fall from grace since being traded from Seattle to Denver. The former Super Bowl champion completed 63% of his passes for 42 touchdowns and 19 interceptions while going 11-19 as a starter.

Not everything in Denver was his fault, and he looked considerably better in 2023 than in 2022. However, it's going to take a massive turnaround for the league to shift its perception of the nine-time Pro Bowler.

Wilson's best season was arguably 2020 when he tossed 40 touchdowns with 4,212 yards while leading Seattle to a 12-4 season. He's not that far removed from his superstar play. If he can find his way back to playing that kind of football, he'll easily be the best quarterback Pittsburgh has had since Ben Roethlisberger's 2018 season.

It seems a tall task, but it's far from impossible with the young talent surrounding the veteran. Asking for the turnaround in one season is the hard part to get around, though. But at 35 years old, Wilson doesn't have time to waste getting back to a Hall of Fame-bound player.

If Wilson returns to form, the Steelers are a playoff team without question. In the same frame, his playmakers will be huge benefactors.

2. George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth Have Breakout Seasons

Outside of the running back room, George Pickens and Pat Freiermuth are the most exciting young talents that can legally touch the football. Unfortunately, early in their careers, they haven't gotten to touch the ball enough.

Freiermuth is largely regarded as a top-10 tight end on skill and potential alone, but he's yet to have a true breakout season. Pickens has made incredible catches and dominated individual games, but he also has yet to have a season that defines him as a true No. 1 receiver.

While Freiermuth has dealt with injuries, both have been at the mercy of awful quarterback play and even worse playcalling. With Arthur Smith calling the plays, there's a fear that he won't highlight these players like he should - but that isn't a guarantee.

Pickens and Freiermuth both just need consistency from the play-caller and passer to take the next step in their careers. If they both are allowed to do so and take advantage, Pittsburgh's offense goes from a unit with high potential to practically elite.

3. Offensive Line Issues Are Resolved with Infusion of Youth

Of course, for the first two scenarios to come true, the offensive line must perform. There's a lot of youth on the front five. Broderick Jones is taking over at left tackle, Zach Frazier is the rookie in the middle and Troy Fautanu should beat out Dan Moore Jr. for the right tackle spot.

With James Daniels and Isaac Seumalo providing the veteran presence between each of them, the offensive line is in a solid position to be much better than in past seasons. To their credit, we've seen considerable improvement on the line over the years, particularly late in the season, and run-heavy performances from the offense.

It's time to put everything together for this offensive line. With a competent quarterback and two great runners behind them, the offensive line is in a position to look good. If they are efficient despite the youth, the offense can be something special.

4. Patrick Queen is a Perfect Fit in Pittsburgh

The Steelers have been looking for an established leader at inside linebacker since Ryan Shazier's career-ending injury. Last year, Elandon Roberts provided the best performance we've seen since. However, that was after injuries decimated the entire room and Roberts, at 30 years old, is not the archetype befitting of a modern three-down linebacker.

Enter Patrick Queen. Queen comes over from the Baltimore Ravens as the running mate to Roquan Smith. Queen wasn't asked to be the emphatic Mike backer but found his fit as a playmaker all the same.

Queen is instantly the best off-ball linebacker on the Steelers' roster and will wear the green dot, relaying the defensive signals from the sidelines to his teammates. It'll be the first time he'll be asked to do so in his professional career on a full-time basis.

If Queen takes to that role seamlessly and continues to build off of his impressive 2023 season (133 tackles, nine for loss, and 3.5 sacks with an interception), he'll prove to be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh.

The Steelers need a commanding presence in the middle of the defense, and if Queen is truly the answer in every possible way, the defense will take an important step toward becoming a truly elite unit.

5. Joey Porter Jr. Establishes Himself as Elite

Joey Porter Jr. had an impressive rookie season. He allowed just 47% of passes in his direction to be completed for less than 500 yards while snagging one interception and allowing just one score. What's more impressive is he quickly earned the right to follow each team's No. 1 receiver, which hasn't often been a luxury the Steelers have enjoyed over the years.

Still, Porter Jr. isn't viewed through the same lens that Sauce Gardner is just yet as a young, elite No. 1 cornerback. There isn't much keeping him from reaching that status with a full slate of games in 2024.

He'll square off with the likes of Devante Adams, Ja'Marr Chase, Amari Cooper, and Garrett Wilson next year, so he won't be lacking in opportunities to shut down some of the league's best receivers.

One aspect that would help change the perception around the second-year corner is generating turnovers. Porter has two interceptions since getting to Penn State. It's tough to put a number on the amount of picks he needs to make a difference, but one or two probably won't be enough without an unprecedented performance in locking down half the field.

6. TJ Watt (Officially) Breaks Sack Record, Wins Defensive Player of the Year

This one is just for fun since TJ Watt was robbed of the undisputed record in 2021 and the award last year. Watt is routinely snubbed as one of the best edge rushers in the NFL despite having 96.5 sacks in 104 games and a share of the single-season sack record.

If these other dream scenarios come to fruition, Watt will have ample opportunity to be as disruptive as ever and get his flowers in the process. After all, the one thing holding back his national recognition is likely a lack of team success anyway.

7. The Pittsburgh Steelers Win a Playoff Game

It's been just seven, but for some Steelers fans, it feels more like 84. The Steelers desperately need to win a playoff game. Going 9-8 isn't cutting it anymore, especially after Mike Tomlin signed an extension through 2027.

It's easy to count out Pittsburgh with the changes on offense at offensive coordinator and quarterback, the young offensive line. The stagnant display of mediocrity certainly doesn't help either.

Still, from an incredibly optimistic perspective, the Steelers have the necessary pieces to not only reach the playoffs in the tough AFC North but win a game once they're in the postseason.

It takes all manners of luck, including the injury report, but the roster has some promising pieces in place to get the franchise back to the standard everyone expects.