Odds are, the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t winning the Super Bowl this year.
At least, that’s what the sportsbook odds are saying as the Steelers have their lowest chances of winning the Super Bowl entering a season since 2004, according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell.
Writing his annual piece detailing how all 32 teams can win the Super Bowl this year, Barnwell ranked the Steelers 27th overall with a 1.0% chance to win Super Bowl LVII in Arizona, and a 19.9% chance to make the playoffs in 2022. That’s the lowest chances the Steelers have had since 2004 when the Steelers were coming off of a 6-10 season the year prior, and had Tommy Maddox entering the regular season as the quarterback for head coach Bill Cowher.
Of course, that season rookie Ben Roethlisberger came off the bench due to injury and led the Steelers to 13 straight wins and an AFC Championship Game appearance at then-Heinz Field. Barnwell doesn’t see that happening this year with rookie first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett coming in for Mitch Trubisky, but there is a way Barnell sees the Steelers making a run, that being another dominant display of defense like the black and gold had in 2019 under head coach Mike Tomlin.
“Realistically, the clearest path for the Steelers to win would be through a dominant defense,” Barnwell writes for ESPN.com. “T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward were an incredible one-two punch along the D-line a year ago, but inconsistent play at linebacker and in the secondary dropped Mike Tomlin’s team from first in defensive DVOA in 2020 to 14th.
“We’re three years removed from a 2019 season in which the Steelers forced a league-high 38 takeaways and nearly carried quarterback Mason Rudolph to the postseason. It would take that sort of defensive dominance to get them back among the Super Bowl contenders in 2022.”
Back in 2019, the Steelers were sitting at 8-5 and on the verge of a stunning playoff berth, but a meltdown against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday night football, and then two losses to the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens did in what was an incredible season defensively by the Steelers after trading for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Now, with Trubisky and Pickett being clear upgrades over the 2019 versions of Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges, a better running back in Najee Harris, and a deeper defense, the blueprint for success is there for the Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin. That said, the blueprint is for a playoff push, not a Super Bowl run, though crazier things have happened in the NFL.
It’s not a surprise that the Steelers have such low Super Bowl and playoff odds from Barnell and the sportsbooks. Counting out the Steelers should be done at one’s own peril though, especially with Tomlin at the helm and stars on defense like Watt, Heyward and Fitzpatrick.