What are the Pittsburgh Steelers’ chances of doing well this season? Many are hanging their hats on the fact that they were able to go 8-6 last season without Ben Roethlisberger, believing that getting him back, even if he isn’t quite the same player that he was two years ago, would be worth at least a couple of wins, likely the difference between making the playoffs and missing it.
Still, they also play in the same division as the AFC’s number one seed last year in the Baltimore Ravens, so there aren’t many—short of perhaps Adam Rank—predicting that the Steelers will actually win the division. We saw that recently on an NFL Network discussion, in which the Ravens were assumed to be the favorite, and James Jones and Maurice Jones-Drew debated who would be the most likely challenger. MJD chose Pittsburgh.
It has to be the Pittsburgh Steelers. It has less to do with Big Ben and more about that defense. I’m gonna tell you why. Last year, they went 8-8 with Duck Hodges being your quarterback. Mason Rudolph. All these other guys. All you’ve got to do—you’ve added better players, you added more weapons in the draft, your defense is still one of the top in the league, creating turnovers—drop Big Ben in there. That’s all you’ve got to do, is drop Big Ben in there and let him go to work. Now, you’re gonna need some guys to stay healthy. James Conner has to stay healthy and play a full 16 games. But you also drafted a young running back out of Maryland as well. They’re gonna continue to add pieces together. I truly believe that if Pittsburgh can get on a run—if they can start fast—they’ll finish strong, and they may challenge Baltimore to win that division.
“I almost came out of retirement”, he joked, about having the opportunity to play with the Steelers’ defense. “I almost called Mike Tomlin”. Pittsburgh had one of the best defenses last year, leading the league in both takeaways and sacks, and holding their own in points allowed and yards allowed as well.
The Steelers are on a two-year playoff drought, and have now gone three years without a victory in the postseason. They did advance to the AFC Championship game in 2016, that year going 13-3 in the regular season, which was their best record since 2004.
Is this roster as talented as the one that won 13 games three years ago? The offense certainly isn’t. No Antonio Brown, no Le’Veon Bell, the offensive line is not what it used to be, either. They at least have tight ends now, though, and they have talent more spread out in the backfield and at wide receiver. The defense is certainly better, especially in the secondary, and at outside linebacker.