There are many reasons to doubt the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2023.
Pittsburgh is 4-0 in one score games this season, a mark that screams regression to .500. In addition, they got blown out against San Francisco and Houston in their other two games.
Second year QB Kenny Pickett has a low ceiling and one of the league’s worst PFF passing grades. The secondary has taken a step backwards, and the Steelers are looking up in the standings at a strong Baltimore team.
However, the Steelers actually have strong playoff prospects behind the Ravens.
Even with the looming regression in one score games, you can’t take away those four wins. At 4-2, Mike Tomlin looks poised to win 8 or more games in his 17th straight season.
TJ Watt is doing his usual damage in rushing the passer, but fourth year edge Alex Highsmith has leveled up this game. He has a 13.7% pressure rate, better than the 10.5% from last season when he had 14.5 sacks.
Overall, Pittsburgh ranks 8th on pass defense by my adjusted success rate. It might be a struggle to maintain that rank, as the defense ranks 22nd in PFF coverage grade. But with that pass rush, the defense should be better than NFL average.
With Pickett, the pass offense ranks a meager 24th in my adjusted passing success rate. However, they might have a breakout star in WR George Pickens. The second year player is gaining 2.46 yards per route run, almost a yard better than the NFL average for WRs.
This preseason, my numbers had Pittsburgh a half point better than NFL average, and data from the current season has not changed this assessment. My member numbers make Pittsburgh a pick against Jacksonville at home.
While this suggests value in Pittsburgh +2.5, there is a better way to bet the Steelers. With my best member numbers, the Unabated simulator gives Pittsburgh a 57.2% chance to make the playoffs.
This accounts for a strong chance to beat Jacksonville, and then home games against Tennessee and Green Bay in which Pittsburgh should be favored by at least a field goal.
The Power Rank and the Unabated NFL simulator suggests value in Pittsburgh to make the playoffs at +106 on FanDuel (available on Thursday, October 26, 2023).
Here is a sample of predictions usually saved for paying members of The Power Rank.
CFB. Oregon will beat Utah by 5.2 points on the road. The clash of Oregon’s offense (4th in my adjusted success rate) and Utah’s defense (2nd) will be epic. However, Utah’s offense (76th) will be the worst unit on the field.
CFB. Oklahoma will beat Kansas by 8.2 on the road. Oklahoma has the nation’s top offense by my adjusted success rate. While Kansas has gotten great play from backup QB Jason Bean, the defense has struggled again (91st).
NFL. Miami will beat New England by 5.9 points at home. Miami’s defense came into the season with high expectations because of new DC Vic Fangio. However, they have been awful at 29th in my adjusted passing success rate so far.
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