3 Stats That Prove the Steelers Are Super Bowl Contenders in 2021
This past season likely left Pittsburgh Steelers fans with mixed feelings.
Missing the playoffs after an 8-8 regular season is nothing to be excited about, but the team also lost starting QB Ben Roethlisberger to injury in Week 2 and also entered the season without Le'Veon Bell or Antonio Brown.
Considering those obstacles, the Steelers' season was fairly impressive, and these three stats highlight why they're still legitimate contenders for the Super Bowl next season.
1. Truly Elite in Yards per Play Allowed
Four teams in the NFL held opposing offenses to fewer than 5.0 yards per play in the 2019 season, and first place was a three-way tie at 4.7. Two of those teams, the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers, were heralded as elite defenses all year. The third was the Steelers. Defenses don't seem to get as much credit when their offense is struggling to do their part, but Pittsburgh's D also ranked third in Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA metric, and this is an elite unit. If they can get some help from the offense, Pittsburgh's defense might start to get the recognition it deserves.
2. Dominating the Turnover Battle
The Steelers finished the regular season tied for seventh in per-game turnover margin, at +0.5. That elite defense recorded takeaways on 19.0 percent of opponents' drives (best in the NFL). For reference, the next-best team in this category was the Patriots, who averaged a takeaway on 17.0 percent of opponent's drives. Even though the O had a 15.7 percent turnover rate (sixth highest in the NFL), they still consistently won the turnover battle. Notably, Pittsburgh was the only team in the NFL that finished top 10 in turnover differential, but didn't make the playoffs. Roethlisberger hasn't had a turnover rate as high as Mason Rudolph's 3.2 percent since 2015, so that differential could get even better if they get their aging franchise QB back next year.
3. Highly Effective Backfield
Injuries were the big story in the Steelers' backfield last year, but that gave plenty of backs an opportunity to shine. Five backs saw at least 20 totes, with three seeing at least 60 on the year. As a unit, the Steelers' tied for seventh in the NFL in yards after contact per rush attempt. With James Conner, Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels forming a three-headed committee with strengths that range across all areas of the game, this is a unit that goes a long way to complementing the defense with a strong rushing attack while also giving Pittsburgh weapons in the passing game.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.