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Finishing the season strong will define the 2020 Steelers. The great start just puts them in a better place for the stretch run.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 8-0 and hoping to continue their franchise-record start to the season. But as most people know, it’s not how you start but how you finish. So how do the Steelers play in the second half of the season compared to the first? It’s not that the Steelers can out-perform their record in the first half of 2020, but they can do their best to match it.
In this installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at some of the numbers in regards to how the Steelers have performed over the second half of the season since 2007 when Mike Tomlin became head coach.
Since 2007, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a 68–36 record in the second half of the NFL season. This equates to a .654 winning percentage. For anyone keeping score, that is 16 games above .500 over a 13 year span.
For comparison sake, the Steelers are 65–38–1 in the first eight games of the season under head coach Mike Tomlin when looking at years before the 2020 season. This record gives a winning percentage of .630 which is slightly behind how the Steelers performed in the second half the season. Counting the tie as a half game in both the win and loss column, the Steelers have 2.5 more wins in the second half of the season since 2007 than in the first.
2nd vs. 4th
While the records do seem to be extremely close for the Steelers in the first half of the season versus the second half, the Steelers have the 2nd-best winning percentage in the NFL over the final eight games of the season since 2007. The only team with a better winning percentage is the New England Patriots with a record of 80–24. When comparing to the first eight games of the season, the Steelers have the 4th-best winning percentage from 2007 to 2019. Of all the teams ranked in the top five on either list, the Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens are the only teams that have a better winning percentage in the second half of the season.
In the 13 four seasons in which Mike Tomlin has coached the Pittsburgh Steelers, only on four occasions have the Steelers had a worse record in the second half of the season than they did in the first half of the season. Those years were 2007, 2009, 2012, and 2018. In order to not add 2020 to the list, the Steelers will need to run the table.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have finished at .500 or worse in the second half of the season 5 of the last 13 years. The Steelers have finished 3–5 over the final eight games in two seasons (2012 and 2009) and have finished 4-4 in three seasons (2019, 2018, in 2007). Of those five seasons, the only one which was a playoff year was in Mike Tomlin’s first season in 2007. The worst season the Steelers have ever had over the final eight games since the NFL went to a 16 game schedule in 1978 was in 1999 when they went 1-7.
The Steelers have finished with 6 or more wins in the final 8 games of the season on 8 different occasions. Six times the Steelers have gone 6-2 and twice they have gone 7-1. Surprisingly, the Steelers have not finished 5-3 in the second half of the season under Coach Tomlin. Of those 8 seasons, the only year the Steelers did not make the playoffs was in 2013 when they could not make up for a 2-6 start in the first half.
Just for fun, I looked up how the Steelers have done when it came to recording sacks in the first half of the season versus the second half the season over the last three years when they have led the NFL. Interesting enough, when looking in total the Steelers have 81 sacks in the first eight games and 81 sacks in the final eight games from 2017 to 2019. With the Steelers putting up 32 sacks in the first half of 2020, they are set to match the total in the second half and eclipse the 60 sack mark for the first time in franchise history since sacks have been recorded.
So there are some numbers in regards to the Steelers when it comes to the second half of the season since 2007. Finishing strong to carry momentum into the playoffs will be key, so the historic run the Steelers are on to start the season won’t mean much if they fizzle down the stretch. The Steelers are known for being a second half of the season team, and 2020 hopefully will be no different.