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Pittsburgh Steelers 2017-18 NFL Team Preview

Pittsburgh Steelers 2017-18 NFL Team Preview


2017 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Preview


NFL News and Previews


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Key Additions: DE Tyson Alualu, WR Justin Hunter, CB Coty Sensabaugh, RB Knile Davis

Key Subtractions: LB Lawrence Timmons, LB Jarvis Jones, WR Marcus Wheaton SS Shamarko Thomas

Strengths

Offense is where the Steelers should once again shine the most; they simply have too many weapons not to. We should see the unit be ranked inside the top five by season’s end.

Every member of their explosive trio, “the Killer Bs,” is among the elites and most productive in their respective positions – Ben Roethlisberger is averaging 292.6 passing yards per game since 2014, LeVeon Bell just led the league in total yards per game (157), and Antonio Brown is putting up 1,500-plus receiving yards per season in the last four years. And as if all that talent weren’t enough, they are also protected by one of the most efficient offensive lines in the league, who allowed the second fewest sacks last season (21).

The receiving corps will be the most interesting, since Roethlisberger and Bell are the obvious workhorses of the QB and RB slots, respectively. Brown will be backed by big-play receivers Sammie Coates (knee), Eli Rogers, and Darius Heyward-Bey, sensational rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, new acquisition Justin Hunter, and the returning Martavis Bryant, who was suspended in all of last season (substance abuse). With his speed, hands, and tendency to burst for good yardage, Bryant can be expected to be the number two man in the passing attack.

Weaknesses

The issues on defense are not that glaring, but to say that the Steelers do not have their “Steel Curtain” persona on D would be an understatement. Although they unquestionably have the talent – Ryan Shazier, Bud Dupree, and the ageless wonder James Harrison, among others – all they are able to do is post middle-of-the-pack numbers, as the team is ranked somewhere in the teens in passing yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, and interceptions.

The loss of Lawrence Timmons (signed with the Miami Dolphins), who’s a regular fixture in the schemes is concerning, but getting Tyson Alualu as his replacement could prove to be good enough.

Key Player – Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger is approaching the home stretch of his Hall-of-Fame career, unlike Brown and Bell, who are both at their ultimate primes, so he should be regarded as the key player this coming season.

Along with being healthy, the big question – every year until he retires – is if he still has enough in him to lead the team. Last season, glimpses of father time catching up to the 35-year-old QB was evident, with his numbers on road games dropping notably, including completion percentage (70.8 to 59.3) and passing yards per game (319.2 to 238). In fact, it can be argued that for much of the season, Bell’s superb play made Big Ben look good.

Key Game – December 17th (New England Patriots)

A win over the powerhouse Patriots, a team that they went 0-2 this past season, will bring the Steelers’ confidence to a new high. This will be a test that will let coach Mike Tomlin and his men know how much they have progressed, because no opponent has looked more invincible against them more than the Pats.

2016 Team Stats

Category Stat (Rank)
Points per game 24.9 (#10)
Passing yards per game 262.6 (#6)
Rushing yards per game 110.0 (#17)
Scoring defense 20.4 (#10)

Writer’s Prediction

The Steelers, who are pegged at (+1,200) to win the Super Bowl, will win the AFC North with another 11-5 record.

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JE
Written by JE

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