Predicting the floor/ceiling for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 14: Mike Tomlin the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 14: Mike Tomlin the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ regular season is right around the corner. As we look ahead, how low is the team’s floor, and how high is its ceiling?

For the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2019, there are fewer expectations and more questions than there have been in recent years.

With the departure of key personnel — both on the field and on the sideline — the return of players set to take on larger roles, and the addition of young players looking to make an immediate impact, experts and fans have mixed expectations for this season.

Here is a look at the best and worst scenarios to help determine what to expect for Pittsburgh in 2019.

The Steelers’ schedule features a mix of teams with varying skill levels, including teams contending for the Super Bowl and teams contending for the first overall pick. To analyze the best and the worst of what 2019 could turn out to be, let’s split the schedule into three categories: wins, losses, and 50/50 games.

Games in the loss category are games that the Steelers will almost certainly struggle to win. A season opening trip to Foxborough comes to mind, as do divisional contests against a Baltimore team that always provides a close, physical battle, and a Cleveland team that has only become more talented since last season’s bounce back campaign.

With a poor track record against the Patriots, and two contests against both the Ravens and Browns, expect three losses here.

In contrast, let’s take a look at some games the Steelers have a very good chance of winning. In the division, expect one win against Baltimore, one win against Cleveland, and two wins against the Bengals, a team the Steelers have had great success against in the Ben Roethlisberger era.

In addition, look for strong performances against teams like the Seahawks, 49ers, Bills, and Jets. These four teams are probably not as talented as the Steelers, but at the same time they are not so weak that the Steelers should play down to their level, as Pittsburgh has done so often.

These teams that I see as being somewhat competitive present the Steelers with the opportunity to pick up wins without the potential to lull Pittsburgh to sleep. Expect eight wins here.

Now we get to the interesting part. The remaining five games are a combination of good teams the Steelers could play up to and bad teams the Steelers could play down to.

The Chargers, Colts, and Rams all have high expectations and will provide a challenge to the Steelers, but by no means should these games be out of reach for Pittsburgh.

The Dolphins and Cardinals, however, are teams that no one expects much from, and that is exactly why they are dangerous. Every year the Steelers pick up a loss somewhere that they absolutely should not. These two teams seem like great candidates for this year’s unexplainable letdown game.

At the end of the season, it will be these five games that ultimately determine the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fate.

After looking at the schedule above, the Steelers are poised to have an 8-3 record, excluding those pivotal five games that I view as being up for grabs.

So, the floor for Pittsburgh, assuming the team loses all five of those 50/50 games, is 8-8. While not a bad record, an 8-8 campaign would almost definitely lead to watching the playoffs from home for the second consecutive season.

The ceiling, though, assuming the Steelers win each of those five games, is 13-3, which would certainly be enough to clinch the AFC North.

This is a team to keep a close eye on this season. While Pittsburgh could falter and miss the playoffs again, the team’s schedule provides the potential for a team that, if all goes as well as it could possibly go, could really leave a mark on the AFC.

13-3, 8-8, or somewhere in between? We will soon begin to get our answers.

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If you had to guess at what a potential floor and ceiling would be for the Pittsburgh Steelers, where would you sit? Are you excited, or nervous about this pivotal season? Leave your comments below!