As the calendar turns to December and the final month of the NFL regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers face one of the toughest stretches of their 2018 schedule. However, while games against the 8-3 Los Angeles Chargers, 8-3 New England Patriots and 10-2 New Orleans Saints look to be a daunting for a team hoping to earn a bye in the playoffs, history suggests the Steelers will breeze through their final opponents.
Dating back to the 2013 season, Pittsburgh has only lost 3 of the 23 games they have played in the month of December, more than any other team in the league.
Over the past 5 seasons, the @steelers own the @NFL's best record in the final month (including Jan. regular-season games):— NFL Football Operations (@NFLFootballOps) November 30, 2018
1. Steelers – 20-3
2. @Patriots – 18-6
3. (tied) @Panthers – 17-7
3. (tied) @Chiefs – 17-7
4. @packers – 16-7
Week 13 preview: https://t.co/gB3KLx7C3s pic.twitter.com/4K8i9sLQ6d
Their 20-3 record towers above the Patriots in second place at 18-6, with the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs tied in third place at 17-7. That being said, while Pittsburgh has only lost three times in the last five seasons in December, it is perhaps worth noting that their last loss at this time of the year came against New England in Week 15 of the 2017 season. An outcome that might have been rather different if a certain touchdown reception had stood.
The Steelers went undefeated in 2016 and 2014, but it was the Baltimore Ravens who put a blemish on their December record in 2015 and the Miami Dolphins who ruined it in 2013. Never has Pittsburgh lost more than once in the last month of the season over the past five years.
With a handful of exceptions, December has always been a good month for Mike Tomlin since taking control of the Steelers in 2007, even if his debut season was not one of them. He would lose three games in the final month of that year, a feat he has matched only once since in 2012. Apart from 2009 when they lost twice, Pittsburgh only dropped one game in December each year from 2008-2011.
Should the Steelers manage to win all but one of their remaining five games this season as per their average, they could yet be watching the Wildcard Round at home ahead of a game at Heinz Field in January.