Everybody has got an opinion. There is a saying that says there’s at least one other thing everyone has as well. Peter King exposed one of those two things to the world recently when he revealed his first power rankings of all teams in the NFL following the predominant portions of the offseason, and it was not very kind to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh narrowly missed the postseason in 2018, the first time since 2013, finishing with a 9-6-1 record, largely thanks to a series of defensive collapses in the final month and a half of the season. Since then, they have gone out and gotten themselves a new starting inside linebacker and cornerback, and also bolstered the depth at both of those two positions.
King wasn’t exactly convinced of the efficacy of those moves as a counterbalance to the departure of Antonio Brown, who caught 104 passes for 1297 yards and a league-leading 15 touchdowns in 15 games last year, in spite of the fact that that offensive prowess wasn’t enough in itself to get the Steelers into the postseason.
The respected journalist ranked Pittsburgh 18th in the league, just on the wrong side of the midway cutoff, meaning that he believes the Steelers will be in the bottom half of the league in 2019, and his argument is largely predicated on Brown’s absence:
It’s going to be peaceful in Pittsburgh without the weekly (daily?) questions about Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. But with all the distractions and discord last year, the Steelers still averaged 26.8 points per game, and I’ll be surprised if they reach those heights this year. Steelers players might find it more placid coming to work and games this year with Antonio Brown 2,300 miles away, but how are they replacing Brown’s 115 catches a year over the last five seasons? With James Washington? Donte Moncrief? Doubt it. More likely, Pittsburgh turns to the man who cost them first, second and third-round picks on draft day, linebacker Devin Bush, and hopes he can be the sideline-to-sideline presence Ryan Shazier was until that fateful night in Cincinnati late in the 2017 season.
In case you were wondering, King ranks both the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens higher, so that’s yet another national commentator who believes the Steelers will not only fail to win the AFC North, but in fact come in third. He placed the Browns 11th in his power rankings, with the Ravens just behind them.
It’s not unreasonable for people to doubt the Steelers after losing arguably their best player, hoping to replace him with a second-year player who did not have a good rookie season and a journeyman veteran who did little of note in his first five seasons. The only way, of course, to prove the doubters wrong is to show it on the field.