Tough Schedule Could Haunt 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers

Profile Picture: TwinSpires Staff

TwinSpires Staff

August 6th, 2018

Are The Pittsburgh Steelers a worthy long-term investment?

by DS Williamson
After the debacle that was the Steelers’ 42-45 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Divisional Playoffs last season, head coach Mike Tomlin and Pitt’s brass took things out on an unsuspecting source, offensive coordinator Todd Haley. In effect, Pittsburgh fired Haley even though the Steelers were one of the very best offensive teams in the NFL since Haley became in charge. Will the move work for the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers and their sports betting faithful?

How will new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner affect the offense? Supposedly, the reason that Tomlin fired Haley is because QB Ben Roethlisberger wanted to play more no-huddle. That’s an excellent reason, right? Uh…no. Sometimes, it’s best if quarterbacks just play.

Roethlisberger knows what he’s talking about, but Pittsburgh’s defense isn’t as solid as it has been in years. So, if Ficthner decides to heed Roethlisberger’s advice and does indeed call more no-huddle, that speeds up the game for both the offense and defense.

Even if the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers can score fast, it doesn’t mean they can keep the other team from scoring slow, which ultimately impacts game script. Chip Kelly proved with Philadelphia that many times it’s better to score slower than faster. The uptick in fantasy production by some of Pittsburgh's star players could seriously ramp up.

Too bad in real football, production only counts if it translates to wins. That’s why the advantage of playing more no-huddle might not work to Pittsburgh’s benefit.

Can the defense come together without Ryan Shazier? Ryan Shazier suffered a devastating injury early last season. His recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. But, he’s far from ever playing football again. That means the Steelers, whether they want to admit it or not, must manage to play great defense without Shazier.

Last season the defense ranked fifth overall. It allowed around 307.0 yards per game. The defense fell apart against Jacksonville at the worst time possible. That’s where the issues are. Pittsburgh’s defense can run up great stats (just like the offense) during the regular season by playing twice against Cleveland, Baltimore, and Cincinnati. That should be 8 wins for the Steelers.

The problem is that Pittsburgh struggles when it runs into teams on their level, like the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots.

Pittsburgh’s Schedule isn’t as easy as it looks If we say that this team does indeed win all 6 of their AFC North games, does that mean the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers head to the postseason with the best record in the NFL? Probably not. The reason is because they must face all three playoff team - the Saints, Panthers, and Falcons - in the NFC South. Tampa Bay should also be improved this season.

The Steelers' will also face the AFC West this season where Oakland, the L.A. Chargers, Denver, and Kansas City should all pose problems. Then, of course, there’s the late season battle with the New England Patriots.

Firing your offensive coordinator because your defense gave up 45 points in a playoff game doesn’t make sense. If Tomlin fired Haley to satisfy Big Ben, it might be a bigger issue. Playing more no-huddle doesn’t feel like the right move.

Sure, the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers are a Super Bowl LIII contender. But, they’re not a Super Bowl lock by any stretch.