While I’ve spent the summer following the Pittsburgh Pirates and plan to continue to do so as the team fights for the National League Central division, with the NFL season only a week away, it’s time to share some thoughts about the Pittsburgh Steelers. First, according to SportBet.com where you can make football game picks all season, the Steelers are +3000 on the moneyline to win the Super Bowl. I have no idea what this means since I’m used to seeing odds like 10-to-1, but the Steelers are tied for 11th with Cincinnati for the best odds to win the Super Bowl. I’ve struggled with whether I think this is appropriate. On one hand, I’m used to seeing the Steelers regularly make the playoffs and compete for the Super Bowl, so this may seem low. However, the team went 8-8 last season and has some serious question marks.
On offense, the Steelers finished near the bottom of the league in rushing in 2012. The team looked to upgrade the running back position by drafting Le’Veon Bell out of Michigan State in the 2nd round. Unfortunately, Bell has a foot injury and will likely miss, minimally, the first few weeks of the season. The offensive line is young and has struggled during the preseason. With Mike Wallace gone, there are some questions about whether Emmanuel Sanders is ready to step up and the depth at the wide receiver position. Additionally, Heath Miller, arguably the most underrated tight end in the NFL, is recovering from a torn ACL with his return unknown.
Defensively, the Steelers have led the NFL in total net yards allowed in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The problem is that the team finished -10 in the takeaway/giveaway ratio last season. I know this sounds elementary, but the Steelers must cause more turnovers (and have less turnovers) if they want to compete for the playoffs. A healthy Troy Polamalu will certainly help. I also think this is a make or break season for defensive ends Ziggy Hood (Ziggy!) and Cameron Heyward, and they’re finally going to live up to their 1st round draft pick selections.
Going back to the odds, being 11th best team will likely get you either into the playoffs or in playoff contention. That’s where I see the Steelers this year at 9-7 or 10-6. Actually, I’ll split the difference and go with 9-6-1 and look forward to everyone freaking out during the tie game. While I don’t think the defense will be #1 in the league for a third consecutive year, I think they’re going to cause more turnovers. Additionally, the running game can’t be as bad as last year, right? So my prediction is that the Steelers will finish the season with a 9-6-1 record and barely earn the second AFC Wild Card.
How do you think the Steelers will finish this season?