The Steelers Can Still Easily Make the Playoffs Without Ben Roethlisberger
Let's not sugarcoat this: Landry Jones isn't very good.
According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric -- which you can read more about in our glossary -- Jones has a career Passing NEP per drop back rate of 0.04. In other words, on his 57 drop backs last season (the only real-game sample we have from him) he's added around 0.04 points for his offense with each drop back.
That may sound good, but the league average last year was 0.11. And Ben Roethlisberger, who's reportedly going to be sidelined for four to six weeks with a knee injury, had a rate of 0.25 last season. To put this another way, he was more than five times as effective as Landry Jones.
But it's not all bad, Steeler fans. Prior to the injury, Pittsburgh had 62.9% odds of making the playoffs, good for ninth-best in the NFL. And their odds of winning the division sat at over 54%.
Given Big Ben's injury, here's where things stand now.
When you think about it, this makes sense. Pittsburgh faces New England this weekend in what will probably be a loss, but then they'll get a much-needed bye. Following that, they'll face Baltimore, Dallas, and Cleveland, with the Cowboys' game being played at Heinz Field. Per nERD, which measures the number of points we'd expect a team to win by against an average one on a neutral field, the Ravens are the 18th-best team in the NFL while the Browns rank 30th. The Cowboys (seventh) are easily going to be the Steelers' toughest opponent post-bye week but, again, the game is in Pittsburgh.
And even if the Steelers can only take one of their next four games, they'd still be sitting at 5-5 in what looks like a weak AFC North.
The Steelers should struggle offensively without Roethlisberger, but in a weak division, the numbers still favor them.