Steelers will finish 9-8: Mike Tomlin coached football teams just always seem to have nine lives and the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers have been no different. Tomlin coached teams just don’t go away and It’s why Tomlin has yet to have a losing season and is a win Sunday from keeping that streak alive. Losses by New England and Miami and a Pittsburgh win over Cleveland will send Pittsburgh to the postseason. A miraculously turn over events if it plays out that way, especially when you factor in how Pittsburgh wasn’t able to pick off one win against New England, Miami or the New York Jets, which at the end of the day will probably be what sinks Pittsburgh. Prediction, 9-8 finish for Steelers but the Dolphins beat the Jets on a field goal.
Roethlisberger now a believer in Pickett? Prior to the Baltimore game, the Steelers season was trending where one major question mark in the offseason was still going to be – ‘What is Kenny Pickett’s Ceiling?’. Does he actually have the ability to elevate lesser talent around him that the great one’s can? Is he a game manager that can make more than a couple big plays a game? — In a way, the back-to-back great game winning drives still doesn’t answer that and I’m not sure Pickett is ever going to be a quick strike, big play QB. Pickett’s, though, with his two magical game winning drives, is rightfully getting others on board that the Steelers have something here. You can’t deny some of the attributes he showed on those game winning drives against the Raiders and Ravens. Among the believers has become Ben Roethlisberger who if you listened to his podcast this year, you could tell he’s never felt Pickett has the tools to be great. Roethlisberger is now signing a different tune. “I severely underestimated Kenny,” Roethlisberger said on his podcast. “I think he throws the ball better than he thought, he’s faster or just more elusive, but he runs the ball way better than I expected. His decision making is really good.”
1st Down: No bigger stunning development in Pittsburgh’s recent surge than the offensive line. They’re just bullying the opposition and have made Najee Harris actually look like a first round talent.
2nd Down: The emergence of Jaylen Warren can’t go unnoticed. Pittsburgh has suddenly ended the year with a formidable 1-2 punch and Warren’s emergence and different type of element he brings to the table crosses off a spot the Steelers don’t need to address into 2023. Has Mike Tomlin also learned the importance of leaning on a No. 2 back and the benefits it is having on his lead back who looks the best he has ever looked? Time will tell……
3rd Down: Pittsburgh’s personnel 4-4 package of four DL and four linebackers has been an impressive wrinkle the coaching staff has deployed since the Carolina game with great success. Yet to really see it against an elite quarterback but against three straight opponents with good to great running games, it’s been a resounding success. What the personnel and usage has done is really highlight how big of a bust Devon Bush is who played just 5 snaps against the Ravens despite Myles Jack not being fully healthy for weeks now and exiting the game at half time with a recurring groin injury. In the 4-4 package, what it’s done is let Robert Spillane play man-to-man assignments where he’s starting to become much improved and keep rookie Mark Robinson in the box where he excels as a run stopper. For being severely less talented middle linebackers, the arrow continues to point up, compared to Bush who the Steelers view as a lost cause.
4th Down: The Pittsburgh Steelers missed the 2018 postseason because of Chris Boswell and that was a talented group that could have did damage. He’s given the team memories of 2018 with his poor season in making just 69.2% of his kicks in 2022. The similarities from 2018 and this season are near identical where Boswell struggled from 40-49 yards. He was 50% in 2018 from 40-49 and is 44.4% this season. Is this injury related where Boswell’s never found his footing or age as Boswell turns 32 in March? Boswell carries a $5.64 million cap hit and $6.4 million dead cap hit in 2023.