Entering Week 13 at 11-0, the Pittsburgh Steelers have inserted themselves into the conversation that features other teams that have finished undefeated or flirted with the achievement. Teams that are considered some of the best of all-time, like the 1972 Miami Dolphins or the 2007 New England Patriots.
Former NFL wide receiver Torrey Smith, however, isn't quite ready to lump Pittsburgh in with those franchises. While he applauds the team for finding ways to win, he doesn't believe their dominant record fully matches the makeup of the team.
“The Steelers are a real contender, but the Steelers are the worst undefeated team in this history of football," Smith said on NBC Sports Washington's Washington Kickoff Live. “They have a chance to win a Super Bowl but you have to look about it.”
What Smith is looking at is the performance of the team on both sides of the ball. He credits the defense for doing a strong job of getting after the quarterback and being a major contributor in wins, but he also doesn't feel the unit is dominant in all phases of the game.
The same can be said for the offense. There is talent in the receiving core and Ben Roethlisberger has bounced back exceptionally after missing a majority of 2019 with an injury, but the group is not consistently blowing away opposing defenses.
For a team to be considered one of the best, and live up to the lore of other teams that gave an undefeated season a run, Smith feels Pittsburgh needs to be better than that. Much like the record needs to be perfect, there should be aspects of the game that are unbeatable as well.
“They’re playing great defense, but they aren’t locking everything down in the run game. There isn’t one thing you could say they do better than anyone," Smith said. They’re getting after the quarterback, sure.”
“But offensively that doesn’t look like a championship team right now. Do they have the opportunity to win it? Yes. But when you’re undefeated you’re supposed to look like the Patriots were when they had Randy Moss," Smith said. "The one thing that you’re doing way better than everyone is clear each and every week, that you’re the better team.”
Former Washington Football player Brian Mitchell, like Smith, isn't taking anything away from what the Steelers have accomplished in 2020. Yet, he does understand why some may not look at them in a way that is as dominant as the undefeated record.
Even with one loss, the Kanas City Chiefs are viewed by most as the best team in football. Mitchell connects that to what Patrick Mahomes and the offense can do. No matter what is thrown its way, they have the opportunity to shred a defense and put up points. Mitchell is not sure Pittsburgh can do the same.
“They look at the Chiefs and say ‘this team can put 40, 50 up on anybody’ and if they want to put 40, 50 up on the Steelers, do the Steelers have enough on offense to come back and combat that?" Mitchell said.
To round out the conversation, former Washington Football quarterback Jason Campbell weighed in as well. For him, it's easy to sit around and try to find flaws in the Steelers' performance, especially when it comes from a former Ravens players, but it's also important to show praise for what they have done.
Winning one game is never easy in the NFL, much less 11 straight. Pittsburgh is also doing this in a season that is unlike any other.
“That’s hard to say because it’s hard to win in the NFL," Campbell said. "We all know that, it’s any given Sunday you could be beat by anybody.”
“This is the first time ever as well that teams have had to face a COVID situation during a football season. Where games are getting moved, practices are getting moved," Campbell said. "You may not practice, you may show up on Sunday and play. That’s difficult, so we all have to take that into effect as well.”
As Smith noted, his label that the Steelers are the "worst undefeated team in this history of football" doesn't mean they can't continue to win or take home the Lombardi Trophy. Winning is all that matters and the team has done just that.
To him, they just aren't at the level of other historic teams they are chasing. Those teams were on a different playing field compared to the competition, and Smith doesn't see enough to place the Steelers in the same category.
"Right now they are figuring out a way to come out on top, which is the most important thing in football, to score more points than the other," Smith said. "But they aren’t dominant, and they could be had today.”