Being as the start of the 2016 regular season is still several months away from beginning, it’s likely going to be a while until several major media analysts go on the record with their Super Bowl LI predictions. With that said, Vinnie Iyer of the Sporting News has already decided that it’s soon enough for him to make his prediction.
Iyer predicted on Wednesday that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be the team to hoist the Lombardi Trophy this season in Houston by beating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl LI and here are his reasons for that:
The Steelers’ playoff runs the past two seasons have been cut short by key injuries, which also affected their playoff positioning. Assuming they’ll be a lot healthier this season, they should meet Roethlisberger’s expectations of a 500-point offense, much because of his career-best play in the passing game.
Even without Martavis Bryant, this team remains loaded with explosive players and good enough depth to light up the scoreboard. With all their firepower through the air, they still have an element of old-school smashmouth with Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams running behind a powerful offensive line.
Balanced and dangerous can also describe their defense, suddenly infused with reliable young playmakers. They have rebuilt quickly with a different kind of zone scheme built to rush the passer with less blitzing and jump on turnover chances. They did well to plug their few weaknesses on that side in the offseason. Their new form of defensive prowess will be measured by big plays and takeaways, not yards allowed.
It’s certainly hard to argue with Iyer’s reasoning at this point of the offseason as the Steelers offense, on paper at least, appear to have more than enough talent to overcome the year-long suspension of wide receiver Martavis Bryant. As long as that unit can navigate through injuries over the course of a full season, there’s no reason to think they won’t light up the scoreboard on a week-to-week basis.
Most of the question marks associated with this year’s Steelers team will center around their defense as several young and inexperienced players figure to be counted on heavily as the season progresses. This unit must not only see more production out of their outside linebackers in 2016, they also need to play much better in coverage than they did in 2015. The Steelers spent their first three draft picks this offseason on defensive players and added another depth player on that side of the football during free agency in hopes of making that unit better.
Curretly, Bodog has the Steelers listed at 10-1 to win Super Bowl LI and they are bested by only the New England Patriots (7-1) and Seahawks (8-1) as we sit here in late June.
In addition to picking the Steelers to win the Super Bowl this season, Iyer went a step further and also predicted that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be named the game’s MVP.
Here’s to hoping that Iyer is ultimately right on the money with his ultra-early predictions.