It’s probably a tall task to find anybody who knows about football who will seriously predict that the Pittsburgh Steelers will not make the playoffs in 2018. It’s just not really a realistic thing to say. Even if you assume that they might take a step back this year for one reason or another, the fact of the matter is that the AFC North has really struggled for years now. At 10-6 record should be more than enough to advance. Maybe even 9-7.
Apparently the league’s website has been killing time during this dead period of the offseason by running a series in which they explain why each team in the NFL is going to make the playoffs this year. Of course they will be wrong about 20 teams, since only 12 actually make the playoffs. The Steelers entry is one you have to be confident about, however.
One of the reasons that Adam Rank cites for his belief that Pittsburgh will return to the postseason for the fifth straight season is because of the team’s decision to replace Todd Haley at offensive coordinator and promote quarterback coach Randy Fichtner into that post.
Ben Roethlisberger “wanted a guy who would condone all of his behavior”, Rank suggested. “Like when you’re going out to a ballpark and want to hang out with your buddy who isn’t going to talk you out of that third chili dog, even though everyone knows damn well you’ll inherently be up all night with heartburn. But this is fine. You want Roethlisberger to be happy”.
I do think it’s fairly reasonable to assume that that the change was made at least in part with Roethlisberger’s preference in mind, but it’s not as though the offense struggled under Haley. They posted four of their top six all-time scoring seasons in franchise history over the past four seasons.
Another reason for optimism, according to Rank, was the signing of veteran safety Morgan Burnett in free agency, who replaces Mike Mitchell in the starting lineup—or perhaps who will replace Sean Davis in the starting lineup, who will in turn replace Mitchell.
He didn’t really seem to put a whole lot of thought or effort into this one, mostly ranting about the defense and pointing out that Burnett was with the Green Bay Packers in 2010 when they lost in the Super Bowl, but he did note that the veteran is known for his play against the run, which they need.
That is about all I can muster in terms of meaningful content out of this downtime fluff piece. The rest was just about Roethlisberger not talking about retirement and the fact that Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are good. He wrapped it up by jokingly pointing out that the catch rule was changed, so they would have beaten the Patriots last year.