The Pittsburgh Steelers head into 2023 with plenty to be hopeful about. Quarterback Kenny Pickett showed some marked improvement after taking over as the starter partway through last season, and they have a strong receiving corps with George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, and Allen Robinson.
In 2022, the Steelers went 9-8, winning six of their last seven games to turn the season around. Najee Harris returns as running back after adding over 1,000 yards last season.
Here’s a look at Pittsburgh’s best and worst scenarios for the upcoming year. At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Steelers are +5000 to win the Super Bowl, +3000 to win the AFC, +450 to win the AFC North and +135 to make the playoffs.
Steelers best-case scenario for 2023
The Steelers, as mentioned, have plenty to legitimately feel hopeful about. They finished their season 6-1 with Kenny Pickett at the helm, and he was a rookie who had been tossed into the starting position. With an entire offseason to work with the first-team receivers, Pickett has had plenty of time to improve. Receiver George Pickens will add a lot to the more experienced guys on the offense, and if the passing game can start adding some significant support, the Steelers have a great chance at continuing to flourish.
On the defensive side, T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cam Heyward make up a strong wall that has plenty of potential this season. Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin enters his second year with Pittsburgh in 2023 after a good showing last year. If the Steelers can dominate on both sides of the ball, a best-case scenario looks like wins over multiple — or all — divisional opponents, and a playoff run at the end of the season.
Steelers worst-case scenario for 2023
Mike Tomlin’s claim to fame is that he has never finished a season under .500 in Pittsburgh, so the worst case for the Steelers starts with a losing season. Maybe Kenny Pickett gets injured, or perhaps he can’t live up to his role last year as the team’s October savior — either way if the passing game doesn’t get going, their investment and the draft picks they’ve used to surround Pickett will feel like they’ve gone to waste.
The worst case for the Steelers likely involves finishing last in the AFC North. If Deshaun Watson comes storming in for the Browns, the Bengals continue to dominate, and the Ravens up the stakes with a happy and well-paid Lamar Jackson, the Steelers could quickly sink to the bottom of the pack here.
On the defensive side, Watt has struggled with injuries in previous seasons, and the linebacker group is still getting figured out. A lack of leadership and communication on this defense could make things go haywire.