Magic Number: Kenny Pickett’s Win-Loss Record Strikingly Diverges When Opponents Score At Least 20 Points


Stare at anything long enough and you might start to see a pattern forming. Accumulate enough data and you could find yourself a trend.

Up to this point in his career, there is a very clear trend indicating the difference between victory and defeat for Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett: 20 defensive points allowed. He has never won a game he’s started and played the majority of without defensive assistance via points in which the team has allowed 20 or more points.

But he is 12-1 in games he’s started and played the majority of when the Steelers hold their opponents to under 20 points. In fact, Sunday’s win over the Green Bay Packers by a 23-19 margin is the most points the team has ever allowed in a game that Pickett has won, with the exception of the 26-22 win over the Cleveland Browns that featured two defensive touchdowns.

And it just so happens that the Steelers are averaging 20.2 points per game allowed this season, sitting at 6-3, right in the ballpark. In two losses, they allowed 30 points, the other, 20 on the nose. Otherwise, the opposing team is scoring 16, 17, 18, 19 points, and losing.

So what exactly does this mean, and how useful is it? Well, one thing that it doesn’t mean is that the Steelers can’t win games Pickett starts without the defense either holding a team to under 20 points or making up the difference with points of their own.

It just means that it’s a whole lot easier for them to win that way. They are not an offense right now that is built around scoring a lot of points. Their focus is on possession, both in terms of ball security and drive length, as well as in field positioning.

Of course, the goal on every drive, barring end-of-half situations, is to score. You’re always trying to find the end zone, and no, the Steelers are not doing that with anywhere near the frequency that they would like to.

Here’s a key reality in these statistics, though: The Steelers have only allowed 20-plus points six times in the 19 games that Pickett has started and played the majority of, and in one of them, they added 14 points of their own.

So he hasn’t had a ton of chances to hang in there in more high-scoring games because the defense has been keeping the scores down for him. Which is what you want, naturally, but we can’t bury him for failing to do something he’s rarely had the opportunity to do.

Granted, he is 0-3 in such games this season, though in two cases it was more a matter of the game quickly getting away from the Steelers. Scoring first has been just as important. Pickett should be able to remain competitive in any game provided that the full breadth of the offense remains open to him. In theory, anyway. I’d prefer not to test it too often.

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