Here goes. You might want to pour yourself a drink, or pick up a gun and drive over to Bruce Arians' house. Stats are from ESPN, NFL.com and Football Outsiders, a stats analysis site that works in cooperation with FoxSports.com:
-- Ben has been sacked a whopping 43 times this season, or 10.1 percent before the Jacksonville game, more than any other QB in the NFL except Jon Kitna, who has been sacked 46 times. I think every Steelers fan can agree that were it not for Ben's strength in shrugging off tacklers and his mobility, the sack total could be 143. Ben's sack yardage loss total, 313, is worst in the league, as is his sack percentage.
-- His touchdown percentage, on the other hand, 7.5, and his touchdown total, 29, are both third best in the league behind those of Tom Brady and Tony Romo. When Ben is not being taken down in an 11-on-1 game of Smear the Queer, in other words, he's very efficient.
-- His total yardage, 2897, however, drops to 12th, just behind Eli Manning, and his number of attempts, 385, drops to 15th. Combined with Ben's sack total, this stat makes more sense. Pittsburgh is failing to get off passing attempts more than any other team in the league due to sacks. Even Kitna, who has been sacked more than Ben, is fifth in the league in passing attempts with 499.
-- Although Willie Parker leads the league in rushing, with 1317 yards, he has 40 more attempts than the number two back, LT, who has only six less yards than Parker. Of the 11 backs who have 1000 yards or more, Parker's rushing avg. of 4.1 yards is lower than six of them and tied with two. In other words, despite being the league leader in rushing, in average yards per carry, he's toward the bottom of the 11 best rushers in the league.
-- Parker's and Davenport's touchdown total, 5, is tied for 17th in the league with three backs: Frank Gore, Steven Jackson and Kenny Watson. The Steelers rush more times for less average yardage and far fewer touchdowns than comparable teams.
(Parker is not the every-down back answer in Pittsburgh my friends .... believe it!)
The stats become a little more nuanced, perhaps unjustifiable so in Pittsburgh's favor, because the Steelers have blown out five teams: the Browns, Bills, 49ers, Seahawks, and Ravens.
-- On 3rd or 4th downs where the conversion was 2 yards or less, Pittsburgh has converted running the ball 62 percent of the time, for a rank of 18th in the league. The number one team, Indy, converts these plays 79 percent of the time.
-- 23 percent of Pittsburgh's runs have been stuffed for zero or negative yardage, for a rank of 15th in the league. Indy also leads the league in this category, with 18 percent.
Here's where the rubber meets Larry Zierlein's and Bruce Arians' asses:
-- Football Outsiders, which ranks Pittsburgh 23rd in the league in offensive line run efficiency, tallies the percentages of run plays to five directions of the OL and the line's rank compared to the rest of the league in that direction. On runs around the left end, Pittsburgh has had an avg. of 4.39 yards, 13th in the league; Left Tackle, 4.25 yds (18th); Mid-Guard, 3.66 (28th); Right Tackle, 4.63 (8th), and Right End, 4.93, (4th)
Apparently Pittsburgh hasn't had as much success running the football to the right and left of the center. Given the characters who inhabit that neck of the woods, and given that Parker is a speed back, not a power back, that's hardly stunning. Let's look at where the Steelers have chosen to run the ball, then:
-- On 389 rushing attempts, Pittsburgh has run the ball to the left end 9%, left tackle 17%, mid-guard 54%, right tackle 15%, and right end 5%.
Pittsburgh is running the ball to the section of the OL it fares worst more than all other sections of the OL combined.
-- Furthermore, Pittsburgh is 9th in the league in percentage of run plays that result in 10 more yards, with 20 percent, indicating that when Parker and Davenport get past the OL, they fare well. Again, not a surprise.
Further stats bear out the earlier ones, that the Steelers score points when their drives progress and don't turn the ball over a whole lot ...
-- On 142 drives, Pittsburgh's offense has averaged 2.07 points per drive (7th); .232 touchdowns per drive (8th); .127 turnovers per drive (9th); .085 INTs per drive (10th); .042 fumbles per drive (8th); and .694 percentage of down series that resulted in either a first down or a touchdown (10th).
-- Pittsburgh's offense has an avg. starting line of scrimmage of 32.89 (3rd); yet only averaged 29.15 yards per drive (15th) and punts the ball .387 percent (14th).
In other words, a gigantic percentage of Pittsburgh's drives are stalling out somewhere in enemy territory, well short of the red zone.
Jeff Reed's field goal attempts (23) are 23rd in the league. His longest FG is 49 yards. Despite having the third best average starting line of scrimmage in the league, and having decent overall offensive stats, the Steelers offense is bogging down well short of Reed's range.
Considering that 4 of the Steelers' five losses have been by 7, 3, 3 and 7 points respectively, I'd say that's a problem. One of many.
-- By contrast, Pittsburgh's defense was number one before the Jacksonville game in all of the same categories listed above for the offense except four: turnovers per drive, .138 (21st), INTs per drive, .058 (30th), fumbles per drive, .080 (9th), and average line of scrimmage for opponent, 29.43 (13th)
-- In fact, the Steelers do not have a single player in the top 50 NFL interception leaders. Pittsburgh is 11th in the league in terms of turnover ratio, with +3, but dead last in the league in interceptions, with 9.
So in all, the Steelers are bogging down offensively by running to their weakness, giving up a stupefying number of sacks and furthermore are not getting turnovers, especially interceptions. Positive movement in any one of those factors could easily result in a different record.
I'll conclude this rather verbose statistical headache with my own stat. Against New England, the Steelers were in the red zone 4 times and scored 6 points. If the Steelers score touchdowns on each of those possessions and convert the PATs (Reed is a perfect 36 for 36 on the season), your final score against the best team in the league is 35-34, Steelers.