The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2015 season with two majors goals; win the Super Bowl (which, of course, is the goal every year), and score 30 points per game in the process. The Steelers came two games and about 60 points short of completing that task last season, losing in the Divisional Playoffs to the Denver Broncos and scoring just 26.2 points per game. When considering the fact that Ben Roethlisberger and his three horsemen of the touchdown apocalypse - Antonio Brown, Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant - played just over five quarters of football together in 2015, these accomplishments are remarkable.
Although Bryant is set to miss the entire 2016 for violating the league's personal conduct policy, Brown, Bell and Roethlisberger, as well as Sammie Coates, Markus Wheaton and new addition Ladarius Green, are expected to give Pittsburgh one of the league's most fearsome offenses. In this way, neither of Pittsburgh's goals from 2015 have changed.
"Thirty points per game is still a goal," offensive coordinator Todd Haley told reporters after practice on Thursday. "I think what we did great last year was we got in the red zone a bunch. We probably scored six out of the 10 times we were in there and we always want that to be better. There's not a lot of separation from us and the top teams in the red, but clearly when you get down into that area of the field you got to come away with points and the more times it's touchdowns the better.
To be exact, the Steelers scored touchdowns on 57.1 percent of their red-zone trips last season, the 13th-best total in the NFL. More impressively, Pittsburgh scored 30 points in every game from Week 9 through 15 last season, posting a 5-1 record during that stretch. In total, the Steelers crossed the 30-point threshold seven times last season, and twice scored 28 points. Three of Pittsburgh's 30-point games came against teams ranked in the top-five in the league in pass defense, including Denver, who is widely considered to have fielded one of the best defenses in NFL history last year.
In 2016, not only do the Steelers face a far easier schedule (in terms of 2015 win percentage), but they also will play against some of the league's softest secondaries, including the Washington Redskins, the New York Gia...well, basically the entire NFC East, the Indianapolis Colts and two games against the Cleveland Browns. Based on Pittsburgh's past performances and slate of pass-friendly defenses, 30 points per game should be an expectation in 2016.
The real goal for Pittsburgh should be to hold its opponents to fewer than 30 points per game.