Steelers 11-5 On Road Under Tomlin When Favored By 7-Points Or More


As Wednesday winds down, the Pittsburgh Steelers remain 7.5-point road favorites over the Chicago Bears and that’s not overly surprising. With that line not likely to budge much between now and the kickoff of Sunday’s game at Soldier Field, I thought it would be worth looking at how the Steelers have fared when favored by 7-points or more under head coach Mike Tomlin.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Steelers have been favored by 7-points or more a total of 44 times under Tomlin to date. They have a 36-8 record in those games. However, just an 11-5 record when favored by 7 or more points on the road.

Those eight losses probably aren’t hard for Steelers fans to forget, but in case you don’t remember them all, I have them tabled up for you below along with a few differential numbers from each game.

DATEKO TIMEOPPWK#GM#DAYSCORELINETO DIFXPL DIFSCK DIFTOT DIF
11/18/074:05@NYJ1110Sun16-19 OT-9.5-12-4-3
11/22/091:00@KAN1110Sun24-27 OT-11.5-2-33-2
12/6/091:02OAK1312Sun24-27-15-1223
12/10/098:21@CLE1413Thu6-13-100-2-7-9
12/9/121:02SDG1413Sun24-34-7.5-23-10
9/28/141:03TAM44Sun24-27-7.50-2-4-6
12/27/151:02@BAL1615Sun17-20-10-32-2-3
10/16/161:02@MIA66Sun15-30-7.5-2-4-2-8

So, are there any common traits in those 8 loses? Well, for starters, the Steelers failed to win the turnover battle in all 8 of those losses and they outright lost it in 6 of them. If you look at the sack differential in each game, the Steelers lost that battle by two or more in 5 of those 8 losses. As far as total combined turnover, explosive play and sack differentials, the Steelers only had a positive number in just one of those 8 games, the 2009 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

The Bears will be quarterback Sunday by Mike Glennon and he just happens to be the quarterback responsible for one of those 8 losses above, which was the 2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers win over the Steelers at Heinz Field. The Steelers were 7.5 home favorites in that game.


The Steelers certainly have had some brutal losses under Tomlin dating back to 2007. If they lose Sunday to the Bears in Chicago, a place where past Pittsburgh teams have won just once in 12 prior attempts dating back in 1936, such a loss will certainly be hard to forget.

  • KaiDex411

    I was at that Jets game… YUCK!

  • Steeler Nation!

    And 4 of those losses have happened during the recent reconstruction of our defense. It was painful to go thru (even if we had no losing seasons and have been in playoffs for the last 3). But the transformation is mostly complete, and defense travels well. That said, no excuses now, better beat all the people you’re supposed to beat and some of the ones you’re not.

  • Craig M

    I wonder what our TOP comparison is in each game.

  • The Chin

    History is overrated

  • Roberto Vaquero Bazán

    Me too!

  • pcantidote

    The Bears are backed into a corner at 0-2. Need to hit them in the mouth and knock them out early. Otherwise they will start to believe they can get it done. That is what always seems to happen in these games.

  • Dshoff

    I remember that Raiders game. WOW that was awful.

  • HiVul

    11-5 is pretty telling, I think we’ve all picked up on it over the years. But I’ve been seeing a lot of Steelers vs Bears stats being floated and I think those are almost totally meaningless. Only played the Bears 11 times since 1970, only twice under Tomlin. Granted, we did lose both of those games.

  • nikgreene

    It feels to me like there is a lot of noise in this stat, and that it is a bit cherry picked. What about the Steelers record under Tomlin when they are on the road and favored by 7, or 6 or 5? -7.5 seems like an arbitrary betting line to choose. In addition, I would find this more interesting if we knew the record of all teams when they are favored by -X on the road. It’s kind of like Colin Cowherd, or those other sports shock jocks, they spew out stats but don’t provide context.

  • nikgreene

    Missed that it was -7 or higher…but I think my point stands.

  • JohnB

    the context is we’re favored by seven points on the road. so lets look at the games where it was similar circumstance.

  • nikgreene

    Not really, because if all coaches have a similar record when they are favored on the road than it doesn’t tell us anything about Tomlin.

  • JohnB

    Its a retrospect not comparison.

  • nikgreene

    Great. Then my point I don’t find this retrospective particularly interesting if we don’t have league wide context.

  • JohnB

    Why do you need to have league wide context? This is about Steelers and how they fared in the past when put in the same situation. What would It matter what the Saints fared like when up by seven? They’re not our team. This isn’t NFLdepot. You want in depth info on other teams you’re not in the right place.

  • JohnB

    Were the 09 ones when we “unleashed hell”?

  • nikgreene

    Why would I need league wide context? Because if I want to understand a bigger question like: are the Steelers a good road team, or a bad road team, do the Steelers do well when they are favored and on the road? – then I need to know how other teams, on average, perform in a similar situation.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I felt like the subtext of this article (and some of the other comments) was that the Steelers were not performing well by losing those 5 games. But if on average all teams lost the same amount of time when they were favored and on the road, then doesn’t it change the nature of the conversation?

  • JohnB

    Nope.

  • nikgreene

    I hope you’re 13 or something. I think only then you’re lack of intellectual curiosity could be forgiven. Cheers.

  • nutty32

    Stop the run. Don’t throw picks. Don’t miss field goals/convert red zone opps/don’t get macho going for it and 4th & get stuffed. Come home with the easy, ugly win. 3 – 0.

  • Ravens Team Gynecologist

    I was actually at two of those of five road losses. Decided not to do a road game this year. The game in Miami was the worst last year.

  • Chris92021

    Out of all the 5 losses on the road mentioned in the article, the Cleveland game was the worst. I remember I just got back from a job interview that day (which I got) and was hoping the Steelers would run Mendenhall 30 times against a sorry Browns team that was 1-10 at the time, and put themselves back in the playoff race. Instead of running the ball often, Arians calls for 40 pass plays (8 ending in sacks since our offensive line was terrible then) in windy conditions. Brady Quinn completed 6 of 19 passes for 90 yards. I am not for knee jerk reactions but I thought Arians should have been left in Cleveland that evening. That entire 2009 season was a disaster because of blown leads in the 4th quarter and the awful coordinating by Arians, not to mention not the most consistent play from Roethlisberger. That 2009 game still stings.

  • Chris92021

    Sadly yes.

  • will

    Common thread………most were inferior teams. More data points that show that MT cannot prepare the team to play well against “lesser” teams.

  • Steeler808

    I understand your wanting context but I don’t believe that was the point of the article.

    There is a link to the resource in the article and you can search all the teams if you want.

    For example. New England had 83 such games with an overall record of 75-8. They are 28-2 on the road and 47-6 at home.

  • So was I…

  • It was awful because the defense gave up a late 4th quarter lead. I was living in CA at the time and the bar was quiet until they took the lead. The Raider fans acted like they won the SB, lol.

  • Edjhjr

    Ones I remember best, Oakland, Cleveland, Tampa, Miami.

    Not sure worst may be Tampa. Didn’t Tampa go 50 yards with 40 seconds on the clock

  • It abosultely changes the conversation. It means on “any given Sunday” is true. But caring about what happens league wide around these parts is taken for granted most of the time. The Steelers stats in a vacuum mean nothing, but when you put them up against the restvof the league would tell you something. The Pats have lost to inferior opponents on the road, like at Miami, Buffalo, or NYJ. The was also one year they lost in Cleveland then beat the crap out of us the following week. The same think happened to the Saints, they lost in Cleveland, then beat us but our game with them was much closer than the NE game.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    Home field is worth 3 points most of the time when determining the spread. Losing 35% of the time when you are considered a 10+ point favorite on a neutral site is unacceptable. These should be easy wins. They better buck that trend this year if they want to have any shot at winning the Superbowl. Championship teams don’t give games away. That’s why Atlanta didn’t win the Lombardi last year.

  • VaDave

    Do we really need to find out anything more about Tomlin? If we don’t know enough about at this point, yikes. As for the point spread, as I understand it, the spread in nothing more than a hedge for the bookies to make sure they don’t lose their shirt. It is not a commentary on the abilities of coaches and players.

  • pittfan

    Tampa hurt. We couldn’t get a 1st down to kill the last 2 mins on the clock. Should not have even been in that position

  • Scott Thomas

    I was at the Dolphins game last year…ruined a weekend trip to Miami. Which is tough to do. But that was the start of a 5 or 6 game winning streak for the Dolphins so that made me feel better

  • PghDSF

    The Steelers are 1-12 while playing in Chicago. Hopefully they are due for another win.

  • Grant Humphrey

    The Steelers usually have 1 or 2 games every year where they play down to their competition and lose this game has one of those feelings where I feel like they could have some problems against the Bears even though they shouldn’t.

  • TroymanianDevil

    Before everyone loses their mind about Tomlin here.. keep in mind Belichick is coincidentally also 11-5 …against rookie QBs. While, Tomlin on the other hand has a much more stellar record against rookie QBs. Obviously they are tough losses to deal with and the record should be improved but let’s not act like this is the end of the world or some indication that Tomlin is terrible

  • Brandon Watson

    So I did some factual based research behind this theme that is running rampant amongst the media outlets and our very own fan base, and this theme subscribes to a logic that Tomlin and our Steelers are the only team in this league that loses to “bad” teams, when the MO fits. I maintained, and I’m on record in a few comment sections, as stating that the only team with the kind of consistency that has them winning the games that they are supposed, rarely dropping the easier road games, is NE.

    Pro Football Reference’s site as a really cool Play Index query tool, which allows you to query results containing statistics related to a whole bunch of stuff, including road losses to teams that FINISHED with losing records, with no disclosure as to what week the loss occurred, if Ben was hurt, what the record of team was (somewhat relative to the week), and if Pittsburgh was even good (since they had back-to-back 8-8 swoon .. one of those years starting off 0-4). So here are here is what the query showed . I have not cross-referenced Ben’s availability:

    The date range is 2007-2017:

    Leading the list with an impressive number of only 2 was the LA Rams (lol)
    NE – 9 (4 to Miami & no more than 2 in a year)
    Indy – 10
    Caroline – 11
    Green Bay – 11
    NYG – 12
    Cincy – 14
    Denver 15
    New Orleans – 15
    Chicago – 16
    Dallas -16
    Houson – 16
    Philly 16
    Baltimore – 17
    San Fran – 18
    Atl – 19
    Pittsburgh – 19 (4 to Baltimore, 3 to Cleveland (one of which was in a hurricane)
    Tennessee – 19
    The rest of everybody (Seattle with 20, interestingly w/ Pete Carroll coming in 2010)
    And Jax with the most with – 27

    Drilling down a bit more, by year and what our final record was during those years:

    2007 (Tomlin’s Rookie Season, finished 10-6) 4 losses @Denver,@NYJ (OT), @ Arizona , @ Baltimore
    2009 (Finished 9-7, SB Hangover) Our worst losses going by spread, @KC (OT), @ Cle, @ Chi
    No ‘Bad’ losses in 2010 or 2011

    Then came our back-to-back 8-8 campaigns, so you can argue either way, fact is we weren’t good, so I feel it’s irrelevant but:

    2012 (4 losses, all favored in but @Ten (-6.5), @Oak (-4.0), @Dal (-2.5, in OT), @Cle (-2.0)2, No Ben)
    2013 (3 losses, @Oak (-2.5), @Min (-3.0), @Bal (Even)
    2014 (2 losses @NYJ (-4.5), @Cle (1.5), the infamous 7 turnover game I believe)
    2015 (1 loss @Baltimore (-10) lost by 3)
    2016 (@Philly (-3.5), @ Baltimore (-3.5)

    So there are the facts, Run with them how you will. I included Vegas spread b/c most people give that validity as the true state of the teams at that time.

  • Brandon Watson

    I was going to do home as well, but some other time. The theme has been on the road we are a different team. I’ll do home at some point

  • Brandon Watson

    So there’s only been 4 road games, again with the key variable being losses to teams that ENDED with losing records (in the spirit of labeling good and bad) only 4 were losses in which we were favored by more 10 or more:

    1 in 2007 @NYJ (-9.5, I know not 10 but close)
    2 in 2009 @KC (-11.5) @Cle (-10)
    1 in 2015 @Baltimoer (-10.0)