I wrote after the final preseason game that when you look at the Steelers, they look like a 7-9 team. It wouldn’t be a surprise one bit to see the Steelers stumble and finish around 7-9 or 8-8.
However, despite not being a deep team by any means when you breakdown the 53-man roster and that was very clear in the preseason, the Steelers top tier group of players have the chance to carry them to a wildcard berth. Although I want to say the Steelers finish 9-7, here’s why there should be some optimism (And Some Predictions) for this group to pull off a 10-6 season:
*Ben Roethlisberger and Receiving Group – Roethlisberger gives the Steelers a chance every game and while replacing the touchdown production from Mike Wallace is a concern, the receiver group could evolve into one of the surprises of the NFL season. Look for Antonio Brown to have a huge year with 80+ catches, 1,200 yards and 8 or more touchdowns…….Heath Miller comes back not missing a beat, returning by week 3 at the latest. Markus Wheaton will become a big factor in the offense in the second half of the year moving ahead of Emmanuel Sanders as the No. 2 receiver because of his ability to finish off touchdown plays……. In a miracle, Roethlisberger starts 15 games this season.
*A more opportunistic Defense – I’ll probably regret this, but I see Troy Polamalu staying healthy and giving the Steelers one last special season, but the other headliners of this defense is going to be a dominant season from Lawrence Timmons and the playmaking ability of rookie Jarvis Jones.
*David DeCastro – The tackle position will be a mess for the Steelers this season with up and down play from Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert, but David DeCastro will emerge as the Steelers best offensive lineman by the second half of the season, paving the way for an improved running game in the latter half of the season.
*A third Place Schedule – A third place schedule is something that can’t be overlooked. Look for the Steelers to win the games they should this season, compared to last year.
Week 1 vs Tennessee – (Win, 1-0)
Week 2 at Cincinnati – (Loss, 1-1)
Week 3 vs Chicago – (Loss, 1-2)
Week 4 Minnesota at London – (Win, 2-2)
Week 5 Bye
Week 6 At New York Jets – (Win, 3-2)
Week 7 vs Baltimore – (Win, 4-2)
Week 8 at Oakland – (Win, 5-2)
Week 9 at New England (Loss, 5-3)
Week 10 vs Buffalo – (Win, 6-3)
Week 11 vs Detroit – (Loss, 6-4)
Week 12 at Cleveland (Win, 7-4)
Week 13 at Baltimore (Win, 8-4)
Week 14 vs Miami (Win, 9-4)
Week 15 vs Cincinnati (Loss, 9-5)
Week 16 at Green Bay (Loss, 9-6)
Week 17 vs Cleveland (Win, 10-6)
1. Denver Broncos (15-1)
2. New England Patriots (12-4)
3. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
4. Houston Texans (11-5)
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
6. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
*AFC Predictions: Broncos establish themselves as the class as of the AFC and flirt with a perfect season……Bengals take that next major step, emerging into a Super Bowl contender…..Steelers can’t solve the Bengals in 2013 but season will be remembered by sweeping the Ravens who miss out on the playoffs finishing 10-6 and losing a three-way tiebreaker to the Colts and Steelers…..
4. Texans beat 5. Steelers
3. Bengals beat 6.Colts
1. Broncos beat 4. Texans
3. Bengals beat 2. Patriots
1. Broncos beat 3. Bengals