This stat makes Steelers schedule look all the easier
From the moment their last game of the season ended, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been keeping fans on the edges of their seats with just how much potential they have for the 2023-24 stretch.
The bulk of their hype has surrounded the powerful note they ended last season on, the growth that their young talents showed throughout it, and, last but not least, the manageability of their next schedule. But just how manageable is it when placed alongside their last one?
By the end of this latest regular-season slate, we saw that Pittsburgh had played a grand total of seven games against winning teams and eight against playoff teams. Since there is currently no way to list confirmed numbers of winning/playoff opponents for next year, we’ll just refer to the 2022-23 results for gauging the strength of Pittsburgh’s next schedule as well; that way, we'll at least have an estimation to work with. Upon doing so, the final tallies come to seven and seven—not a big difference.
With that said, one may wonder how the winnability of the 2023-24 Steelers schedule is supposed to stand out by those criteria. The simple answer, at least when last season is the only one cited for comparison, is nothing. That’s because having a discussion solely about those matters suffers from relatively “simple” stats and a short frame of reference (not to mention that last season’s schedule could have also been harder than it was).
There is, however, another characteristic about this next season that makes it appear far more comfortable than several from recent memory: its non-divisional opponents.
Who all will the Steelers face outside of their division?
Just like any other year, the Steelers are set to face the entire lineups of two divisions, with the AFC South and the NFC West being the ones for the 2023-24 stretch. Their all-time winning percentages against those two groups are around .625 and .488 respectively (regular season only).
Going by those numbers, the AFC South is the easiest American division for the Steelers to succeed in, while the NFC West is the second-easiest National division for them to succeed in. When compared to rankings from other years, that pairing is their easiest to face in a season since the 2014-15 stretch.
Now the winning percentage method, too, is a flawed one when attempting to define the quality of a team and/or its future. The main reason as to why falls on a very small—yet crucial—piece of context: We are talking about the history between the Steelers and their opponents, something that ultimately has nothing to do with how any of the teams look today.
Not only that, but if we were to look at the combination of the winning percentages themselves instead of where they sit amongst the others in their conferences, next season’s schedule would not stand out nearly as much. But nonetheless, it’s a fun little stat that puts into perspective how the upcoming circumstances could be harshly more troublesome than they are.
Just for the sake of making the confidence boost even stronger, I would also like to point out that all three of the remaining games on the schedule are quite manageable as well.
All of the opposing squads—Raiders, Patriots, and Packers—finished their previous runs with losing records. Assuming that fact is any implication of how those three will look by the end of their next ones, this will be the first time the Steelers have caught a break like that since 2019.
Lastly, Pittsburgh encountered two of those names just last year, which can only add to its chances of victory once they come back around on the calendar.
It doesn’t take much to get a passionate sports fan ready for his/her team to play, but it certainly doesn’t when the team in question has the potential that the Steelers have on both their roster and schedule. Their failure to climb above what we witnessed last season would be inexcusable when considering the pieces that lay before them today.