The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be putting things into place for a stretch run.
The team made a change at offensive coordinator last week, firing Matt Canada and replacing him with the combination of Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan.
It’s getting healthy, with starting nose tackle Montravius Adams and free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick expected to get back into the fold this week. The team has yet to play a full game with all three of its top defensive stars: Fitzpatrick, Cam Heyward and T.J. Watt.
Already at 7-4, the Steelers are in playoff position, and the schedule is breaking favorably. They’re set to face just one team — the Baltimore Ravens — that currently has a better record than they do, and the Steelers have already beaten the Ravens once this season. Their odds of making the playoffs are near 75%.
And that’s not even factoring the team’s historic tendency toward greater success in the final month of the regular season.
“We will unleash hell here in December,” head coach Mike Tomlin infamously once said, and he has largely fulfilled that promise.
According to research from PennStakes.com, the Steelers are the fourth-best team in the NFL in the month of December over the last decade.
The Steelers have a 29-15 record in December since 2013, for a .659 winning percentage. That comes in behind only the Green Bay Packers (32-9, .780), Kansas City Chiefs (34-10, .773) and Dallas Cowboys (28-14, .667) among NFL teams.
It’s not just recent success, either. The Steelers have the third-most wins in the month of December since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, with 122, and their .601 winning percentage is the second-best in that span.
Since Tomlin took over in 2007, the Steelers are 44-26 in December, the third best record behind the Packers and New England Patriots.
This December, their four opponents — the Arizona Cardinals, Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals — are a combined 15-30.