The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Heading into the draft, how do you think that the Steelers finish the regular season?
Last season, the Steelers managed to post an 11-5 record even while going on a four-game losing streak. There was a point in the season in which they were 4-5, but they were able to tear off seven straight wins to claim the AFC North Division title, advancing all the way to the AFC Championship Game, which they had not done since the 2010 season.
So what about this year? There’s still a lot to happen between now and the start of the season—in particular, the draft, which is now just five days away—but we do know largely how things will shape up. We know who they will play, and now we also know when and where.
It’s usually at this point that the beat writers start making early predictions as to how their teams will fare by picking out a result for each game, and I’ve already seen a couple of people predicting 12 or 13 wins for the Steelers.
If they look like the Steelers that showed up in the second half of the season, then that is certainly doable. And there is plenty of reason to believe that they can be. Their only significant loss from last season has been Lawrence Timmons. As long as they can compensate for that, they should only improve, at least on paper.
Of course the game is never actually played on paper, so we have to do some digging. While they overall have an ‘easy’ schedule based on the cumulative win-loss record from last season of their 2017 opponents, they do have some challenges, most notably the Patriots, the Packers, and the Chiefs, even if they managed to beat the latter twice a year ago.
I do think they should be able to win the division. Both the Bengals and the Ravens have seen some significant departures on the offensive and defensive lines, among other areas, and will need to use the draft to supplement, while the Browns are still…not yet ready to contend for a division title.