The journey toward Super Bowl LII ended far too prematurely for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sending them into offseason mode before we were ready for it. But we are in it now, and are ready to move on, through the Combine, through free agency, through the draft, into OTAs, and beyond.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions over the years and will continue to do so, and at the moment, there seem to be a ton of questions that need answering. A surprise early exit in the postseason will do that to you though, especially when it happens in the way it did.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring developments all throughout the offseason process, all the way down to Latrobe. Pending free agents, possible veteran roster cuts, contract extensions, pre-draft visits, pro days, all of it will have its place when the time arises.
Question: Which AFC North rival are the Steelers most likely to lose to at least once in 2018?
The Steelers had a clean sweep of the AFC North for the first time in years, defeating all three of their division rivals in both contests, though it took some doing against the Ravens and the Bengals, including second-half comebacks.
It’s hard to do once. The odds of them repeating the effort are pretty low. The New England Patriots went 5-1 in their division last year. As much as they’re known to dominate the AFC East, they haven’t swept it since 2012, which is the only time they’ve done so since their 16-0 regular season in 2007.
At least on paper, each of the Steelers’ rivals have improved since last year. The Ravens completely overhauled their pass-catchers, bringing in three new wide receivers in free agency and drafting two tight ends during the first couple of days in the draft.
The Browns have all new quarterbacks, a pair of new running backs, a Pro Bowl wide receiver, and generally a team that on paper looks relatively complete, even if perhaps a year or two away from really competing. But it’s hard to imagine them not winning a couple of games this year. Tyrod Taylor went to the playoffs last year with the Buffalo Bills.
As for the Bengals, they have worked to address their problems along the offensive line, trading for a left tackle and drafting a center in the first round that should start from day one. They added some linebackers that should help as well, as the secondary comes into maturity with William Jackson III entering his first season as a full-time starter.
If the Steelers lose one game to an AFC North rival in 2018, which game do you think it will be? The Browns in Week One? The Ravens at home on Sunday night in Week Four? They play all three in three consecutive games, though with a bye week in between, from Weeks Six through Nine. Can they rattle off three division wins like that?