On the most recent episode of The Scho Bro Show podcast, we were tasked with determining five things for Steelers to return as Kings of the North. Tackling things from various standpoints, I determined the first thing the Steelers need to do within the division is quite simple…
Take care of business at home.
For the Steelers to get on top of the standings in the AFC North, it is extremely important for them to win their home matchups against their division opponents. While games on the road can be a tossup, if the Steelers win all three games in Pittsburgh they will have a leg up on the rest of the division. Simply winning one more game on the road in the division and the Steelers are likely to be in good shape in the standings.
Althiough I thought this was important, I wasn’t sure how much past data would support this. First, I looked at the last three seasons for the Steelers where they had a different home divisional record each year. In 2022, the Steelers went 1–2 at home in the AFC North while in 2021 they went 2–1. In 2020, the Steelers were 3–0 at home in the division. In those three years, where they placed in the division lined up exactly with their home record. The Steelers were first place in 2020, second place in 2021, and third place in 2022. Interesting enough, their road record in the AFC North did not correlate. The Steelers were 2–1 on the road in the AFC North in both 2022 and 2021 and were only 1–2 in 2020. Yet it was in 2020 when the Steelers won the AFC North.
Seeing this information, I decided to look back even farther at the Steelers home record in AFC North games. Trying to find a good starting point, I decided to go with the Mike Tomlin era beginning in 2007. Over those 16 seasons, the Steelers have finished 3–0 at home in AFC North games seven times. Of those seven seasons, the Steelers finished in first place six times and in second place once which was in 2013. In the 2013 season, the Steelers had the best divisional record in the AFC North but struggled with their other opponents and ended the season 8–8. Despite the Steelers being 4–2 in the AFC North while the Bengals were only 3–3, Cincinnati had a 12–4 overall record and were AFC North Champions.
When the Steelers were 2–1 at home in AFC North games, which occurred over six different seasons, they came in first place in the division once, second place four times, and third place once. The one season where the Steelers went 2–1 at home and won the division was in 2010 when they also went 3–0 in the road games. In the three times the Steelers finished 1–2 in AFC North home games, they came in second place in the division once in third place in the division twice.
Of course when a team wins more divisional games it is going to give them a better chance at a better overall record. But seeing how much the numbers supported the Steelers winning at home in their divisional games versus how they ultimately finished the season in the AFC North standings was quite shocking. Although it will take all 17 games for the Steelers to achieve a good enough record to become a AFC North Champions once again, being a team that takes care of business at home against their division foes is ultimately a good recipe for success.
To check out the full rundown of all of our top things for the Steelers to return as Kings of the North, check out The Scho Bro Show podcast below: