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Crunching the Numbers: Finishing strong for a record-breaking season

The Steelers were on pace to set many franchise marks in 2020, but what will it take over the final quarter of the season?

Washington Football Team v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 11-1 and hoping to get back to their winning ways in Week 14. Starting off with the best record to open a season in franchise history, the Steelers were on pace to set new marks in several statistical categories. But where do they stand now as they enter the final quarter of the season?

In this installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at some of the numbers as to what the Steelers will need to attain to reach certain milestones.


After their franchise record start of 11 straight wins, the Steelers falling in defeat in Week 13 means they will need to be perfect for the remainder of the season in order to tie the franchise record for regular-season wins. Should the Steelers win their final four games, they will tie the 15-1 mark set in 2004 during Ben Roethlisberger‘s rookie season.


Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 27 touchdown passes through the first 12 games of the 2020 season. With his personal best being 34 touchdowns in 2018, Roethlisberger would need to average two touchdown passes a game in order to eclipse his own franchise record for passing touchdowns by one player in a season. If Roethlisberger reaches the mark of 35, it will tie the franchise record for touchdown passes thrown in a season assuming no other player throws one in the final four games. The mark of 35 in 2018 came courtesy of 34 from Roethlisberger and one from Chris Boswell.


The Steelers are also on pace to give up the fewest number of sacks in a 16-game season since the NFL expanded from 14 games in 1978. The Steelers have only surrendered 10 sacks in 2020 with the lowest amount in a 16-game season being 20 in 1997.


The Steelers are 12 sacks away from tying their 2017 franchise record of 56 in a season. It would also mark the fourth straight year of reaching the 50 mark if the Steelers average just 1.5 sacks per game. If the Steelers could average 4 sacks per game over the remainder of the regular season, they would become the 29th team to eclipse the 60 sack threshold and would be the first to do so since the Carolina Panthers in 2013.


When it comes to individual awards, T.J. Watt would need to average 1.0 sack per game for the remainder of the season in order to tie James Harrison‘s franchise record of 16.0 sacks in 2008. Watt currently has 12.0 sacks for the season which is one behind his 2018 total and 2.5 behind his 2019 campaign. Merely for reference sake, Watt would need to average 2.75 sacks over the remaining four games in order to break Michael Strahan‘s record of 22.5 in 2001.

50, 37.75, & 36.5

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the verge of doing something they have never done in franchise history which is have three different players go over 800 receiving yards for the season. For the remaining four games, if JuJu Smith-Schuster can average 50 yards, Chase Claypool can average 37.75 yards, and Diontae Johnson average 36.65 yards, the Steelers will have three players with 800 receiving yards. The next closest player would be Eric Ebron who would need to average 79.75 receiving yards over the last four games while James Washington would need to average 114.25 yards per game. Should the Steelers passing game explode over the remainder of the season, all three players could reach 1,000 receiving yards if Smith-Schuster averages 100 yards per game, Claypool averages 87.75 yards per game, and Diontae Johnson averages 86.5 yards per game.


Should the Steelers want to have a player reach 1,000 rushing yards for the season, their lackluster running game would definitely have to get going. James Conner would have to average 88.75 yards per game over the final four games in order to reach 1000 rushing yards for the season. The more pressing concern would be the Steelers need to average 68.75 rushing yards as a team over the final four games in order to not have their lowest rushing total in a 16 game season which is currently 1,386 yards in 2013.

+1, +20

The Steelers currently lead the NFL in scoring defense with 211 points surrendered through 12 games which averages to 17.6 points per game. The Steelers have not led the NFL in scoring defense since 2011. In order to do so, they will need to maintain a lower point total then a couple teams who are close to them. Miami has only surrendered one more point on the season, so the Steelers need to not give up that one point lead the rest of the way. Another team within striking distance is the Baltimore Ravens who are 20 points behind. Although it seems more likely Miami could catch the Steelers, their remaining opponents are the Kansas City Chiefs (2nd in scoring), New England Patriots (23rd), Las Vegas Raiders (11th), and Buffalo Bills (8th) where the Ravens have a much easier schedule in the Cleveland Browns (15th), Jacksonville Jaguars (27th), New York Giants (30th), and Cincinnati Bengals (29th).

So there are some numbers in regards to the Steelers and what they need to do in order to reach certain milestones for the 2020 season. While these team and individual statistics are great accomplishments, the most important of all these would be positioning themselves to make a run for their seventh Lombardi Trophy.