Pittsburgh Steelers Team Preview

2016 Record: 11-5 – 1st in AFC North

2016 Leaders
Passing: Ben Roethlisberger – 3,819 yards, 29 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Le’Veon Bell – 1,268 yards, 7 TD
Receiving: Antonio Brown – 1,284 yards, 12 TD
Tackles: Lawrence Timmons – 114
Sacks: James Harrison – 5.0
Interceptions: Artie Burns, Ryan Shazier – 3


Key Additions
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
LB T.J. Watt
CB Coty Sensabaugh

Key Losses
WR Markus Wheaton
LB Jarvis Jones
LB Lawrence Timmons


Pros
– Ben, Bell, and Brown are undoubtedly the best QB, RB, WR trio in the NFL. When they’re on the field the Steelers are among the NFL’s elite.
– Pittsburgh’s line remains intact from last year. Alejandro Villanueva has improved greatly and Maurkice Pouncey and Devid DeCastro were Pro Bowlers last season. As always, it all begins at the line, and the Steelers have a great one.
– The defense, while not great last season, remains mostly intact heading into 2017. Artie Burns and Ross Cockrell are both capable of becoming strong starters at corner, and a healthy Ryan Shazier is more than capable of replacing Lawrence Timmons inside.

Concerns
– I am in no way questioning Ben Roethlisberger’s professionalism, but two straight seasons of threatening retirement is definitely a concern. I’m sure he’ll be more than ready to go in September but his mindset is something to keep an eye on.
– DeAngelo Williams was a constant threat in the backfield in relief of Bell. He’s now a free agent and rookie James Connor looks to fill that role. Connor has some big shoes to fill as the RB2.
– This team needs to stay out of its own way. Bell and Martavis Bryant need to stay on the field and with the team, they can’t afford to continue finding themselves suspended. Locker room and on-the-field antics have popped up recently as well, it’s all just a bunch of unneeded noise, and it negatively affects the team.


Projection: 12-4, 1st in AFC North.

Not much has changed for the Steelers heading into 2017. The loss of Lawrence Timmons is a negative, but Pittsburgh has depth and talent at linebacker to make up for that loss. The Killer B’s should all be back and ready to go week one. (We’ll keep an eye on the Le’Veon Bell holdout, but I don’t see it extending into the regular season.) This team will go as far as Bell, Ben, and Brown carry them.

I think 12-4 might be a win above where they’ll end up, but I can’t see them being any worse than 11-5 as long as they stay healthy. This is an extremely potent offensive team with a plethora of young talent on defense.

 

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