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Factoid

Touchdown passes

How much might Steelers improve?

While discussing George Pickens and Diontae Johnson (pictured) this week, the glaring weakness from Pittsburgh last year was touchdown passes. They threw just 12, which is a pitiful number. I said I thought they should throw at least 20 this season, and I still believe that, but some support for that belief is in order.

So I looked at the history of teams throwing less than 15 touchdown passes since 2002 -- the start of the 32-team era. It's not quite as rare as I expected; there have been 61 such seasons in those previous 20 years. So an average of about three teams per year throw fewer than 15 touchdowns.

Of those previous 61 teams, only six came back and threw fewer touchdowns a year later. Roughly speaking, there's a 90 percent chance Pittsburgh throws more than 12 touchdowns this season.

About a third of them (19) improved by double-digits, throwing at least 10 more touchdowns the next season. And 14 more threw at least 6 more touchdowns.

Data below, sorted by improvement from one year to the next. I'm very comfortable saying the Steelers are going to throw at least 6-10 more touchdowns in 2023; good news for both the scoreless Diontae and the 5-TD Pickens.

TEAMS THROWING <15 TDS, ONE YEAR LATER
YearTeamTDPNext?+/-
2022Pittsburgh12????
2017Indianapolis1339+26
2012Kansas City824+16
2017Chicago1328+15
2003Oakland924+15
2016LA Rams1428+14
2021Jacksonville1225+13
2012Arizona1124+13
2011St. Louis922+13
2005Chicago1124+13
2020New England1224+12
2004NY Giants1224+12
2010Carolina921+12
2012Miami1324+11
2010Arizona1021+11
2008Cincinnati1121+10
2007Minnesota1222+10
2006Oakland717+10
2006Houston1424+10
2003Buffalo1121+10
2011Indianapolis1423+9
2018Buffalo1321+8
2014Cleveland1220+8
2011Jacksonville1220+8
2007Miami1220+8
2005San Francisco816+8
2009Oakland1018+8
2009NY Jets1220+8
2008Washington1421+7
2004Arizona1421+7
2015Minnesota1420+6
2010Minnesota1420+6
2009St. Louis1218+6
2005NY Jets1117+6
2007Tennessee913+4
2006Tampa Bay1418+4
2004Baltimore1317+4
2020NY Giants1215+3
2015LA Rams1114+3
2013NY Jets1316+3
2010Cleveland1316+3
2008Tennessee1316+3
2008Buffalo1417+3
2007Baltimore1316+3
2002Houston1114+3
2002Dallas1417+3
2009Cleveland1113+2
2017Tennessee1416+2
2021Carolina1416+2
2007Buffalo1214+2
2004Chicago911+2
2003Houston1416+2
2010Seattle1415+1
2008St. Louis1112+1
2003Atlanta1415+1
2008Cleveland11110
2012NY Jets1413-1
2006Minnesota1312-1
2008Oakland1310-3
2003Chicago129-3
2006Tennessee139-4
2011Kansas City138-5

--Andy Richardson

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