(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
With the Steelers' 2022 schedule being released on Thursday night, many outlets were quick to make their record predictions for this year. And from what I read, most people expect the Steelers to go 8-9 in 2022, which would be Mike Tomlin's first losing season and the Steelers' first losing season since 2003.
Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Jim Wexell of Steel City Insider and Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report all have the Steelers at eight wins. Kaboly has the Steelers at 8-8-1, which would keep alive Tomlin's non-losing season record streak, but Wexell and Moton have the Steelers at 8-9. The oddsmakers have the Steelers over/under win total at 7.5, so eight wins seems about right.
Kaboly doesn't think the Steelers will be down-right-awful this season, but with the question marks at quarterback, he doesn't see them being a playoff team, either.
"The Steelers aren’t good enough to be contenders and aren’t bad enough to be out of the race by the time December rolls around," Kaboly said. "It’s going to take some time for this offense to get rolling, whether it is Pickett or Trubisky, and that’s the biggest issue facing them. Oh yeah, you have to keep Tomlin’s streak of non-losing seasons intact."
Kaboly and Moton both think the Steelers are behind the eight-ball at the quarterback position in comparison to the rest of the AFC North quarterbacks -- Joe Burrow of the Bengals, Lamar Jackson of the Ravens and Deshaun Watson of the Browns.
"The Steelers have the fourth-best quarterback in the AFC North. Neither Trubisky nor Pickett measure up to Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson or Deshaun Watson," Moton said.
"The availability of Deshaun Watson is the wild card in all of this," Kaboly said. "If he is suspended for a significant length of time, the division could look like this: 1) Bengals (the offense is too strong); 2) Ravens; 3) Steelers; 4) Browns. If Watson doesn’t get suspended, I like the Browns’ chances of fighting for the division title. Yes, he will make that much of a difference."
On paper, the front part of the Steelers' schedule is a lot tougher than the back end, as they'll have to face the Bengals, Patriots, Browns, Bills and Buccaneers in their first six games. They're on the road against Cincinnati, Cleveland and Buffalo, also. The Steelers play the Jets in Week 4 at Heinz Field.
Following the Week 6 game against the Buccaneers, it doesn't get much easier, as the Steelers play the Dolphins in Miami on "Sunday Night Football" in Week 7 and play the Eagles in Philadelphia in Week 8, a place that they haven't won at since 1965.
Brooke Pryor of ESPN didn't give a record prediction for the Steelers, but she predicted that the Steelers will have just three wins at the bye week.
"The Steelers will have three wins at the bye week," Pryor said for her bold prediction. "Not only are the first five games tough, but every game before the bye will be difficult for a new quarterback to navigate. The Steelers have a stout defense, but they’ll be facing the formidable offenses of Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Miami and Cincinnati. The Browns, Patriots and Eagles aren’t a walk in the park, either."