It’s a non-conference game against a team that isn’t widely expected to be a Super Bowl contender. It’s only Week 2 of the season, and other than it being the home opener, there’s little about Sunday’s matchup against the 49ers that carries much significance.
Don’t tell that to the stat-crunchers at NumberFire.com, though.
As Mark Kaboly, Ralph Paulk and Chris Adamski discussed on their weekly Steelers Roundtable Show on TribLive Radio, Sunday’s game at Heinz Field has the feel of a game that, as far as Week 2 contests go, is one the Steelers have to win.
Intuitively and anecdotally, the Steelers need to win the games they’re favored in considering they are playing the NFL’s toughest schedule. They also need to win as many home games as possible, and they of course would like to avoid going 0-2.
Quantitatively, the good folks at NumberFire can put some tangible measure to how much the 49ers game means to the Steelers. The site uses its internal efficiency metrics to simulate the season tens of thousands of times to determine the most probable outcome for how the season will play out.
Here is what NumberFire concluded would be the Steelers’ chances at a playoff berth, AFC North title or Super Bowl win come Sunday night, pending a win or loss against San Francisco:
* With Win: 26.36%
* With Loss: 15.08%
* With Win: 20.28%
* With Loss: 11.92%
* With Win: 1.52%
* With Loss: 0.82%
In other words, the Steelers, mathematically, are almost twice as likely to win their division by improving to 1-1 than they are if they fall to 0-2. They’re also almost twice as likely to win the Super Bowl, and about 43 percent more likely to make the playoffs with a victory Sunday vs. a defeat.
Incidentally, I’m sure many Steelers fans will take umbrage with what seem to be low figures in all the above scenarios. If so, you probably will like the following even less. Below are NumberFire’s projections for the Steelers as of this moment after Week 1:
Projected Record: 7.27 – 8.73
Conference Championship: 2.34%
Super Bowl: 1%
Remember, these are cold, objective, quantitative data projections. Also, please, don’t shoot the messenger; I’m just passing them along. Finally, perhaps this is a reminder that some in the outside world aren’t as sold on the Steelers as maybe some in Pittsburgh are.