The Pittsburgh Steelers won their 10th game in a row on Sunday when they took down the Jacksonville Jaguars by the score of 27-3. The defense was its usual dominant self against an ugly Jags offense, notching four picks and two sacks on the day. The offense was not terribly efficient but took advantage of the short fields given by their defensive counterparts to score three touchdowns. The Steelers remain perfect.
Now, they are far from a perfect team. The defense is one of the best in the league, but Ben Roethlisberger and Co. are hit-or-miss as a unit. Roethlisberger is not the Big Ben of old, capable of carving up careless defenses. He and the Steelers rely heavily on the YAC ability of their talented receiving core and well-schemed plays to create yards. That can get the job done, as we've obviously seen, but this is not a flawless squad. However, where we sit right now, they have a very good chance of finishing the season flawless regardless.
Of Pittsburgh's six remaining games, three can be considered likely victories: the Washington Football Team, the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Cleveland Browns. The WFT just aren't that good, the Bengals just lost Joe Burrow for the year, and the Browns, while 7-3, should not scare anybody and lost 38-7 to the Steelers in their first matchup of the season.
That leaves three other games against teams with winning records that the Steelers will have a tough time winning, but can still do so. The Ravens are up on Thursday Night Football on Thanksgiving, and they've been relatively exposed over the last two weeks. They blew a big lead over the Titans this past week and lost in overtime, made worse by the fact that they were coming off a loss to a New England Patriots team that just dropped a game against a bad Houston Texans team. Everything feels different when it's Steelers-Ravens, as Ryan Clark has attested to numerous times on ESPN, but the Steelers defense owned Lamar Jackson in their first meeting this year. It's not an automatic W, but it's a very winnable game.
That leaves the Indianapolis Colts and Buffalo Bills as the two biggest remaining obstacles to an undefeated season. The Colts have a legitimate claim to the best defense in the NFL and just beat the Packers thanks to an untimely fumble by Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Philip Rivers, however, has shown a similar decline this season to his draft classmate, Roethlisberger, and has struggled against good pass-rushing defenses, which the Steelers most certainly are. The Bills have a lethal offense when Josh Allen is feeling it and an improving defense, but one that has been exposed at times this year. Both teams will give the Steelers a serious challenge, but neither will be considered favorites.
It takes as much luck as anything to go undefeated over the course of a full season. Pittsburgh has already gotten their share of lucky breaks, and it'll take a few more to finish the job even if they play flawlessly down the stretch. They also have not exactly had a difficult schedule in 2020. But even for those like me who doubt if the offense is good enough to make a Super Bowl run, it's impossible to deny that a 16-0 regular season is very much in reach.
These Steelers are not the 2007 Patriots, seemingly immaculate in every way and striking fear into the hearts of opposing coordinators. So far, though, they've been just good enough to avoid all losses. The final six weeks of the season will determine if "good enough" will be enough.