Ahead of the 2018 NFL season, we’re bringing you a series outlining which teams are getting too much hype and what rosters are sneakily going under the radar.
Disclaimer: I hate your favourite team, regardless of who they are. Please use this rationale if it makes you feel better after hearing about how your team aren’t half as good as they think they are.
If you’ve missed our previews, check them out here:
- Jags a Super Bowl lock – with a better quarterback
- Brees can carry the New Orleans Saints to the playoffs again
- Can the Philadelphia Eagles defend their crown?
- NFL: Are Green Bay finally giving Aaron Rodgers the support he needs?
Projected Wins: 10
This is the best offence in the NFL. They’re in the weakest division in football. They’ve also got one of the easiest schedules outside of their division. Even if they weren’t good, they could land a playoff berth in the NFC North.
Pittsburgh must be a frustrating team to support over the last decade. They seem perennially decent, but eternally underwhelming. Big Ben has long been the epitome of inconsistent, but his arm combined with a zone blocking scheme that could nudge you to hell and back should have produced more Super Bowl appearances.
But the Steelers’ shortcomings are magnified by the fact their divisional rivals – the Bengals, Browns and Ravens – have front offices that are borderline negligent. Anyone that gives Joe Flacco that much money or couldn’t see that AJ McCarron was a better quarterback than Andy Dalton etc.
I haven’t mentioned Cleveland, but there’s little point in truth.
Big Ben’s got an array of weapons to not only set up mismatches but also to win in unlikely situations. Antonio Brown could run a post route against a Cover 4 and still come up with a touchdown grab. It’s just what he does and it speaks volumes about his relationship with his quarterback. There may not be a better understanding between two players in the league.
Now, add in JuJu Smith-Schuster, second-round draft pick James Washington, a dynamic tight end pairing of Jesse James and Vance McDonald and sprinkle the best receiving back in football in Le’Veon Bell on top – and you’ve got a well-oiled machine with consistency up front.
What they’ve needed for some time now to cement their place in the upper echelon of the NFL is a nasty mindset on the opposite side of the ball. Since Troy Polamalu departed, they’ve lacked bite. But they have tried to address that in recent years with their front seven. Their main issue has long been giving up big plays.
Finally, they may have high-IQ talent at safety with the arrival of Morgan Burnett from Green Bay and Terrell Edmunds coming in as a first-round pick from Virginia Tech. Artie Burns is one of the more unheralded cornerbacks in the league and Joe Haden’s experience could be invaluable to the secondary in pressure situations.
Bud Dupree and T. J. Watt give them legitimate speed off the edge and Jon Bostic is an underrated acquisition at the linebacker position.
The truth is – the Steelers will get to the playoffs at a canter. Unfortunately, there’s also a likelihood that they get dumped out unceremoniously by a weaker side because they’ve yet to fully uncover their former winning mentality.
Thankfully for this piece, we only need to confirm they win eleven games from the following schedule: Cleveland twice, Baltimore twice, Cincinnati twice, Kansas City, Oakland, Denver, Carolina, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, New England and the LA Chargers.
Considering you’d heavily fancy them to win each of the first ten fixtures listed, let’s just say they’ll romp into the postseason.