Without trying to get too ahead of ourselves here, at the midway point of the 2017 regular season the Pittsburgh Steelers sit atop the AFC standings by way of tie breakers over the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs. With a 6-2 record, it is safe to say the Steelers look poised to make a run not just at an AFC North crown, again, or the playoffs, but for a first round bye and a top seed in the AFC Playoffs.
Thanks to Pro Football Focus (PFF), they used their advanced analytics to predict the number of wins each team will garner this season. From there, it is easy to see how their predictions rank the teams heading into the postseason.
Before getting to the potential playoff rankings, take a look at what they said about the Steelers, their analytics and their projected win total:
(6-2) PITTSBURGH STEELERS: 11.3 WINS
Strength of Schedule to date: 6th
Remaining Strength of Schedule: 25th
The Steelers haven’t been the unstoppable force on offense it looked like they would be before the season, but they are still 6-2, and were the first team to stop the Kansas City Chiefs. Pittsburgh’s schedule is slated to get a lot easier down the stretch so we may see them look a lot closer to that potential than they have so far, especially with the continued strong play of WR Antonio Brown.
The 11.3 wins projected for the black-and-gold are second only to, you guessed it, the New England Patriots.
PFF has the Patriots projected with 11.9 wins, which made me wonder what the AFC rankings would look like, per the PFF projections.
Here is how things would shake out in the AFC Playoff Picture:
Although these rankings are merely projections, the Steelers would grab a first round bye, and would play the higher seeded team to escape the wild card round at Heinz Field. Not a bad entry way to the postseason, but fans know just how important it is for the road to Super Bowl 52 to travel through the Big Ketchup Bottle.