In most years, the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base would be more than content with a 5-3 record at this point in the season. Mike Tomlin's team has shown the ability to turn it on down the stretch, like last year when the Steelers finished 7-2 in their final 9 games. But despite their record entering Week 10, it's hard to be satisfied with the team's performance on the field.
If the season were to end today, Pittsburgh would be the fifth seed in the AFC. This would also mean that they would be playing on the road in Miami against the Dolphins in the Wild Card round of the playoffs (a team that is currently scoring 31.7 points per game).
I don't know of any Steelers fan that would feel good about this. Pittsburgh is winning football games, but the numbers are more than a little concerning. Here are some of their team stats and NFL rankings heading into Week 10 of the 2023 season, per Team Rankings.
In terms of raw stats, opponent points per game is the only area in which the Steelers are slightly above average. Their yards per game, points per game, yards per play, and opponent yards per game each rank 29th or worse in the NFL this year.
Steelers are a below-average team with a good record
The collection of their statistics suggests that this really should be a 2 or 3-win football team through this point of the season. The Steelers have already made history... but not in a good way. This squad is the only team in NFL history to have a winning record at this point in the season despite being outgained in total yardage in every single game.
I know that the Steelers have a tendency to emerge victorious in one-score games, but at some point, their luck is going to run out. You can't score 16.6 points per game and expect to be a true competitor. Additionally, Mike Tomlin's team is -30 in point differential at this point in the season. That means that Pittsburgh is on track to be roughly -63 in point differential by the end of the season (if they continue at this rate).
While advanced metrics like DVOA and EPA show that the Steelers have been better than the raw numbers would suggest, it doesn't make up for the fact that they are near the bottom of the league in every measurable statistic.
This doesn't mean that they are incapable of turning things around. Getting more talent on the field like Broderick Jones and Joey Porter Jr. can help, while Cameron Heyward's presence could give them a boost. Likewise, if young players on offense can make strides in the second half of the season, perhaps this team could go from 'pretender' to 'contender'.
For now, however, it's very easy to see that the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't as good as their respectable 5-3 record would seem to indicate. The collection of their cringe-worthy statistics shows why they are a below-average team right now.