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Bleacher Report Believes Steelers Are NFL’s Top ‘Sleeper Team’ Entering 2023 Season

After an offseason that was — and remains — quite busy, the Pittsburgh Steelers are shaping up for a rather interesting 2023 season ahead under head coach Mike Tomlin.

Thanks to some shrewd personnel moves by GM Omar Khan and assistant GM Andy Weidl in free agency and in the 2023 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh’s roster looks rather strong overall, at least on paper. Holes have been plugged, veterans have been acquired and high-upside players were added through the draft.

Pair the offseason moves with a relatively easy schedule and the Steelers could realistically make the playoffs in 2023 and cause some trouble in the postseason. Still, they are seemingly being overlooked nationally in a tough AFC North and stacked AFC in general.

But, for Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay, the Steelers are the top sleeper team in the NFL entering the 2023 season.

“Pittsburgh has plenty of firepower surrounding its young quarterback. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren form a quality backfield platoon, while Diontae Johnson, Allen Robinson II and sophomore George Pickens represent a sturdy set of hands for Kenny Pickett to lean on. If third-year tight end Pat Freiermuth makes a leap, the Steelers could field one of the more dangerous aerial offenses in the league,” Kay writes regarding the Steelers as a sleeper team for Bleacher Report. “The protection should be improved thanks to free-agent pickups Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig in addition to first-round pick Broderick Jones, who figures to start at left tackle from the jump and should serve as an anchor in the offensive trenches for years to come.

“The Steelers defense didn’t see any major additions outside of second-round rookies Joey Porter Jr. and Keeanu Benton, but this unit already looked sharp following a Week 9 bye last year,” Kay added. “It improved from a bottom-eight group in terms of yards allowed during the first half of the campaign to ranking No. 5 in that category in the back half. If their first-year talents are as good as advertised and stars like like T.J. Watt can stay on the field, Pittsburgh will be in good shape defensively and a sleeper squad to watch in 2023.”

After struggling to score points on a consistent basis last season, Pittsburgh added more firepower offensively with the trade for Allen Robinson II and the selection of Darnell Washington in the NFL Draft, giving Pickett all the help he needs from a weapons standpoint.

The Steelers did very well rebuilding the offensive lin, too, adding Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig in free agency, and drafting Broderick Jones in the first round. Offensively, there are no real holes on the roster, and no real excuses for another down season offensively, should that happen under offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Defensively, with T.J Watt healthy again and a rebuilt cornerback and inside linebacker room, the Steelers appear to be in rather good shape on that side of the football. Though there are concerns about OLB3 behind Watt and Alex Highsmith and slot corner after the losses of Cameron Sutton and Arthur Maulet this offseason, Pittsburgh looks rather formidable on defense once again.

If the Steelers can pick up where they left off in the second half of the 2022 season — on both sides of the football — there’s no reason this team shouldn’t be in the playoffs and making noise, making them a serious sleeper. That bully-ball mentality on both sides of the football should bode well against a relatively easy schedule and should play quite nicely when the weather turns bad, helping the Steelers get back to that old-school style of football that made them so successful in the early 2000s into the 2010s.

Right or wrong though, it will come down to the development of Pickett in his second season and first full year as a starter. The former Pitts star showed real flashes down the stretch last season, leading three fourth-quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives in the second half of the season.

He has that “it” factor and a real moxie to his game. He’s stepped up into a leadership role, too, and now has everything at his disposal to succeed in the NFL. Expectations are high for Pickett entering Year 2. If he can come close to fulfilling them, the Steelers won’t be much of s sleeper anymore; they’ll be a contender.

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