2-6 looks as bad as it feels. The culprits are aplenty. Steelers haven’t put together a truly effective offensive performance all season, and that continued on the road against a vastly superior Eagles team. The defense has its own issues, starting with a pass rush that just cannot affect the opposing offense’s game plan without T.J. Watt.
There was some fun this week, as the Steelers decided to get busy during a wild Trade Deadline Day on Tuesday! Sending Chase Claypool to Chicago for an (hopefully) early 2nd Round Pick was an incredible deal for Pittsburgh, who looks to fill a bunch of holes in the 2023 draft.
They also did some buying, bringing in CB William Jackson III from Washington for an exchange of late 2025 picks. Getting Jackson helps the secondary now, with the potential for long-term help as well. Jackson isn’t the player the Steelers targeted in the 2016 draft before the Bengals took him 2 picks earlier, but he could easily be an upgrade on the current situation at CB for Pittsburgh.
We could spend the entirety of this exercise contemplating and diagnosing the issues surrounding the Black & Gold’s failures thus far. There’s plenty of that on this website and others. For now, let’s focus in on the NFL landscape for a closer look at where each team stands heading into Week 9. We’ll talk reasons for optimism for every team, including your Pittsburgh Steelers.
Let’s dive into it!
1. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Reason for Optimism: The Eagles are easily the class of a weak NFC, and they will likely be favored in each of their remaining games.
2. BUFFALO BILLS
Reason for Optimism: Is it possible for there to be a 1a and 1b? The AFC’s best team is getting healthier and, much like the Eagles, should be favored in every game left.
3. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Reason for Optimism: JuJu Smith-Schuster and MVS getting rolling makes this offense nearly unstoppable moving forward.
4. MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Reason for Optimism: They keep winning and adding TJ Hockenson to this offense should open things up even more for a humming Kirk Cousins.
5. DALLAS COWBOYS
Reason for Optimism: Who can challenge the mighty Iggles? How about their own long-time rival. This defense is Championship level and Dak being really back makes this team capital D, Dangerous.
6. BALTIMORE RAVENS
Reason for Optimism: Adding a big-time MLB in Roquan Smith from the Bears is just what the doctor ordered for a Defense that is never right unless an All-Pro Mike is roaming the middle of the field.
7. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Reason for Optimism: Geno still ain’t writing back! He’s the biggest revelation in football in 2022.
8. MIAMI DOLPHINS
Reason for Optimism: The Cheetah and the Penguin are quickly becoming the most dynamic WR tandem... in NFL history? Yep. That good. Also, Tuesday’s blockbuster deal for Bradley Chubb should heal this team’s biggest weakness at pass rusher.
9. TENNESSEE TITANS
Reason for Optimism: Derrick Henry looking like, well, Derrick Henry again means this offense doesn’t need stars anywhere else on offense. Good thing too, cuz they don’t have any.
10. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Reason for Optimism: Coming off a Bye in Week 9, the Bolts should continue to ride Austin Ekeler in the passing game. This offense should start flying if teams have to worry about Ekeler underneath breaking one anytime.
11. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Reason for Optimism: If the ‘9ers opponent was the Rams every week, this team might go 17-0. San Fran kinda owns this division in the regular season. That’s huge in the race for the West.
12. CINCINNATI BENGALS
Reason for Optimism: The fairly precipitous fall out of the top 10 has to do with the dire weakness that is the OL. However, we're hear for optimism, and right now that has to be the Bye Week is coming soon and should give the Bungles a chance to get healthy (looking at you, Ja’Marr Chase).
13. NEW YORK GIANTS
Reason for Optimism: The Giants magical run came to an end against the surging Seahawks, but New York can take heart because this team knows how to win in a conference where that’s rare.
14. GREEN BAY PACKERS
Reason for Optimism: You still have Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur. These two guys have been figuring things out together for years, and this time they have an elite running game to help them out.
15. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Reason for Optimism: Bill Belichick helps hide a ton of issues on this team, and he’s not going anywhere.
16. ATLANTA FALCONS
Reason for Optimism: The rest of this division is in relative shambles, and Arthur Smith has put together a team that fights for 60 (or more) minutes. They might not do much if they get there, but the Playoffs aren’t a pipe dream anymore.
17. NEW YORK JETS
Reason for Optimism: The Jets looked different on offense without their dynamic Rookie RB. Good news is, the Defense should rebound after a tough outing against the Patriots run game, and the Jets rebuild is definitely ahead of schedule.
18. LOS ANGELES RAMS
Reason for Optimism: The Rams don’t have to play Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers every week.
19. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Reason for Optimism: You’d love for this to be, “because Tom Brady.” Not feeling like that’s going to help this year. However, a defense that still has a lot of championship pieces on it should get better, and the pass-catching weapons are still elite.
20. CLEVELAND BROWNS
Reason for Optimism: When the team commits to run through Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, there aren’t many defense’s that can handle it.
21. WASHINGTON COMMANDERS
Reason for Optimism: Taylor Heinecke is nothing if not clutch. Two weeks in a row, his ability to find his underrated stud receiver, Terry McLaurin, in crunch time has been the difference.
22. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Reason for Optimism: A drubbing of the Raiders probably points more toward Las Vegas’s ineptitude than a big-time Saints rebound, but that Defense still has a lot of elite talents. Also, Chris Olave is a dude.
23. ARIZONA CARDINALS
Reason for Optimism: The offense is a lot better with a healthy D-Hop. His presence means there’s a chance for the Cards to turn it around before it’s too late.
24. DENVER BRONCOS
Reason for Optimism: Did Russ find something in the second half of Denver’s overseas W against Jacksonville? If so, the defense should still be elite, even with Bradley Chubb on to Miami.
25. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
Reason for Optimism: Travis Etienne is proving worthy of his high draft stock just a year after a devastating knee injury. The Jags have the coach. They have the RB. Do they have the QB? I still think so, but Lawrence needs to clean up the errant throws yesterday.
26. CHICAGO BEARS
Reason for Optimism: Justin Fields’ coaches must’ve finally figured out that they have a generational athlete at the QB position. Fields’ running ability has elevated the rest of his game and the team as a whole.
27. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Reason for Optimism: The Colts are still in the thick of the AFC South race despite a rough start. If Jonathan Taylor can ever get going behind that OL, the Colts may not need much more than 8-9 wins for a division title.
28. PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Reason for Optimism: The schedule really lightens up after their Week 9 Bye, and they get maybe the most impactful defender in the league back for their Week 10 bout against the Saints. This defense totally changes with 90 on the field. It’ll be obvious, and it’ll be instantaneous if he’s fully healthy. Can the offense be a little bit better? That’s the real kicker.
29. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Reason for Optimism: You still have Josh Jacobs, Davante Adams, and Darren Waller in a Josh McDaniels offense that has been successful for a long time. This offense won’t get shut out again.
30. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Reason for Optimism: PJ Walker is easily the best QB on the Panthers roster. He should keep slinging it for an offense that finally is starting to show some life. Also, D’Onte Foreman is proving to be a big-time runner.
31. DETROIT LIONS
Reason for Optimism: DeAndre Swift changes this offense when healthy and Jared Goff is having a career year. If only they had ANY defense at all!
32. HOUSTON TEXANS
Reason for Optimism: Dameon Pierce can be a foundational piece to build around. Unfortunately, that’s about all the Texans have going for them.
Who’s too high? Too low? What did I get right? Let me know about it in the comments section!