Over the course of 32 days (or so) I will be previewing all 32 NFL teams, followed by an overall season prediction post, leading up to the start of the 2014 season. This post is previewing the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers have finished each of the last two seasons with a .500 record. The Mike Tomlin-led team usually doesn’t stay down for too long, so is this the year the Steelers return to the playoffs? If things go right for the team, it’s certainly not out of the question.
QB Ben Roethlisberger had his best season since 2009 last season as he started all 16 games for the first time in several years. Rookie RB Le’Veon Bell had a good first season, rushing for 860 yards and eight touchdowns in just 13 games after starting the season with an injury. That would likely translate to more than 1,000 yards in a full 16-game season, a good sign if he can make it through all 16 in 2014. Meanwhile, top WR Antonio Brown had a career year — 1,499 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns — in just 14 starts. A repeat performance would help the team improve upon last year’s 8-8 record.
Looking ahead at 2014, the Steelers look like they’ll be in a three-horse race with the Ravens and Bengals for the AFC North title. They’ll have to start the season strong early on when their schedule looks to be manageable because after the week 12 bye, the Steelers play four of their final five games against teams that made the playoffs last season, If the main guys on offense can play well, even if they don’t win the division the Steelers may land a wild-card spot in the AFC playoffs.
Sources: http://www.steelers.com, http;//www.pro-football-reference.com