We are now just a month away from the opening of NFL training camps across the country, and while we are still waiting to see how a few things play out in terms of big-name moves, the reality is that most rosters are essentially set. There is, of course, still the looming specter of injuries, but those are things that every team needs to deal with, and which cannot be factored into the equation at this time. With all of that in mind, we are going to turn out attention to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are heading into what is almost certainly a transition year. If they are going to challenge this season, you would have to believe that it will be because of their defense. Let’s take a closer look at that unit so you can begin to plan your bets against their NFL odds.
NFL Betting – Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Expert Analysis For the 2021-22 Season
The Steelers Defense in 2020
Given how things ended up for the Steelers in 2020, it’s easy to forget that they started the season by winning their first 11 games. Much of that success has to be credited to the defense, which set a new record for consecutive games with a sack. While they finished second in the AFC in points against, the Steelers were a staggering +104 in points differential in the regular season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers ranked 3rd in total defense in 2020, but they led the way in a few different categories. Through the air, they surrendered around 194 YPG, while giving up around 111 PPG on the ground. Regularly moving the football on this team was a tough task.
As mentioned earlier, it was in the sack department that the defensive unit really shone, picking up 56 sacks over the course of the season, which put them in 1st in that category. TJ Watt led the league in sacks with 15.
The Steelers also tied for 1st with 18 INTs, while also forcing 9 fumble turnovers. That helped the Steelers close out the season at +9 in the turnover department. It was a brilliant season for this unit, but will that carry over into 2021?
Steelers Offseason Moves
It is worth noting that many major football outlets are already ranking the Steelers as the #1 defensive unit in the league, mostly because they are returning almost all of their starters from last season. The one major loss is Artie Burns, who moved to the Chicago Bears via free agency. Things started to go downhill for the Steelers last season after Burns went out with injury, so it certainly is a key loss.
That said, the Steelers began to see injuries pile up on the defensive side of the football last season. Devin Bush was another of those, but he will be back healthy and ready to go this season. Alex Highsmith, who filled in late last year will likely make the move to starter this coming season. He looked the part in 2020, so things do begin to even out there.
This is a team that is loaded with potential playmakers. Besides the players already mentioned, the Steelers also have a killer CB tandem in Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick. It is going to be tough to top what this unit delivered last season, but this group could get close.