The Steelers are a team starting to collect a hype train after a strong preseason. With a defense that projects to be solid and an offense that they hope has improved, Mike Tomlin takes his team into the second year with Kenny Pickett as the quarterback. This time, the team has their sights set on the playoffs. But not everyone believes that the Steelers will make the playoffs, and some of it might be due to the division and conference they reside in.
The AFC North looks like a gauntlet, and some would say it could be the toughest division in the NFL. On Get Up, former NFL DB Dominique Foxworth talked about the Steelers and where their playoff hopes sit. While he likes the team overall, he thinks the math is too much to overcome for Pittsburgh.
“I mean, they’re a playoff contender, but I think it’s unlikely,” Foxworth said. “They are a team that we saw overachieve last year, and we’re expecting a leap from Kenny Pickett. Their biggest problem was their offensive line, and they’ve addressed it, but they haven’t solved it. With the issues with Matt Canada’s, I expect that to improve also. But as talented as this defense is, it’s not without flaws that can be attacked. I think they’ll be good, well-coached, competitive, and they might make the playoffs. But the problem is their conference. If they were in the NFC, I’d guarantee they make the playoffs. But in the AFC, there’s a lot of teams in their division that could make the playoffs before we even get to the wider conference as a whole.”
That argument is not a bad one. Foxworth does not think the Steelers will be bad he thinks they will be better. The team might be a year away from competing in a loaded AFC conference that looks to be a tough nut to crack. The offensive line point is probably true, too. While the team’s trench play will improve, they might be a year away from fully solving that unit. But the team needs to see their young players’ progression as a measurement point. If that happens, they will be in the discussion.