The Pittsburgh Steelers survived their third-straight game decided by a last-minute field goal and their fourth out of the past five weeks. They’ve done it against teams like the Indianapolis Colts (without Andrew Luck), Green Bay Packers (without Aaron Rodgers), Cincinnati Bengals, and Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers are 5-0 on games decided by three or fewer points in 2017 and an incredible 7-1 in games decided by seven or fewer points. While there’s a chance for this luck to extend for the rest of the year, it’s entirely unsustainable on the long term.
In comparison, the Patriots are, 1-1 in games decided by three or fewer points (Houston Texans; Carolina Panthers) and 3-2 in games decided by seven or fewer points (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins).
In the three individual seasons from 2014-16, there have been seven teams to win 75% or more of their games decided by seven or fewer points (min. 8 games).
The 2014 San Francisco 49ers went 6-2 and followed that with a 4-2 record in 2015, while the 2014 Detroit Lions went 6-2 and followed that up by going 4-4 in 2015. The 2015 Carolina Panthers went 7-1 and went 2-6 in 2016, and the 2015 Denver Broncos went 11-3 and 2-3 in 2016.
Over an extended period of time, teams should expect to regress back towards a .500 record in these close games; Only a few teams are more resistant to this regression in the decade spanning 2007-16.
On the negative side of the equation, the St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, and Buffalo Bills always found a way to lose. On the positive register, the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, and the Patriots to found a way to win.
Meanwhile, the Steelers went 46-42 in close games as a middle-of-the-road team.
Regression doesn’t happen overnight and any singular loss doesn’t mean that the Steelers’ luck has run out. But everything points towards the Steelers being incredibly lucky against a stretch of unimpressive teams, and history shows that Pittsburgh will have to come back down to earth.