Welcome back to another edition of ‘The Super Bowl Race In The Perspective Of Chase’, a close to daily NFL article previewing your favorite teams season! The Pittsburgh Steelers always find a way to be competitive. In fact under head coach Mike Tomlin (since 2007), the Steelers have never had a losing season. But this year, not having a losing season isn’t the bar for success! With probably a more improved Kenny Pickett, a possible breakout receiver in George Pickens and finally a healthy defense, could Pittsburgh really be a contender? Or is a losing season finally realistic for the first time in 17 years! Here is everything you need to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers going into 2023!
It has to be answered: How will George Pickens perform in year two?
The Pittsburgh Steelers started off with an abysmal 4-7 start, but yet found a way to go 9-8 and nearly found their way in the postseason. Their quarterback tandem wasn’t exactly consistent though. The year started off with Mitch Trubisky taking the snap, and finished the season going 2-3 with a 65% completion rate an a below average 4:5 TD-INT ratio. While Pickett also had a negative TD-INT ratio, the team transformed under the hometown quarterback, going 7-5 and helping the offense as a whole.
That offense included another solid campaign from Najee Harris, totaling over 1,000 yards on the ground with seven touchdowns, but his below average 3.8 yards per carry may allow 2nd year running back Jaylen Warren to develop into a key piece on this offense. In the receiving game, Diontae Johnson grabbed in over 880 receiving yards, Pickens piled over 800 and Pat Freiermuth had over 700 at tight end. However, with Chase Claypool being dealt at last years deadline, all three of those guys should raise their production, especially if Pickett is more consistent.
Defensively, Myles Jack, now surprisingly retired, led the team in tackles with just over 100. In the pass rush, Alex Highsmith brought down the quarterback a career high 14.5 times, Cam Heyward added on ten sacks, and T.J. Watt had 5.5 in just ten games. However, Watt totaled 22.5 sacks in 2021, tied for the most in a season in NFL history. If he stays healthy, Pittsburgh’s front seven could be dangerous. In the secondary, Minkah Fitzpatrick may be the best safety in the game, as he totaled 96 tackles and was tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with 6. Levi Wallace also caught four interceptions, and Cameron Sutton caught three.
Overall, despite no postseason, a ton of promise on both sides of the ball for Pittsburgh going into 2023. Pittsburgh added on to the secondary in free agency by signing 8x Pro Bowler and 3x All-Pro Patrick Peterson; Peterson pilled up five interceptions with Minnesota in 2022. And they even improved in the draft, adding Broderick Jones to the offensive line in round one and hometown corner Joey Porter Jr.–son of former Steeler pass rusher Joey Porter–in round two; both of which are amazing picks, especially the value they got for drafting Porter in the second round.
So Pittsburgh may be one of the more talented teams in football, and if T.J. Watt can stay healthy, they very well may be one of the more talented teams in the entire NFL. You have Pickett who should improve, you have a proven defense, proven players offensively, a possible breakout season from Jaylen Warren and George Pickens. And Pickens is the most intriguing player for me. Pickens had over 800 yards in a very minimal role in his rookie season. Now that he’ll be the primary option, his route running, quick separation and top-tier catching may make him one of the best receivers in the game in 2023! I’m personally putting my money on Pickens, as not only is he on my fantasy team, but I think he’ll be one of the best receivers this upcoming year.
In conclusion, Pittsburgh is an intriguing team, and a team that could actually make a run if all the cards fall into place. The problem…the AFC. The AFC is so competitive this upcoming year, to the point where it may seem unrealistic to say Pittsburgh is going to have a massive season. However, with the 7th easiest schedule in the NFL according to Sharpe Football Analysis and a ton of talent just bound to break out and play good football, I do think Pittsburgh will make the playoffs in 2023. How far will they go (?), probably not far. But I do think this is a team that will at least make it to the postseason, and maybe be bound for a deep playoff run!
Prediction: Steelers win 9 or 10 games, make the playoffs, and see massive breakout years from Pickett, Pickens and Warren!
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