After a horrible 0-4 start to the 2013 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers actually played like a potential playoff team, winning eight of their final twelve games. That 0-4, then 2-6 start is likely a major reason why few think this team has a chance to rebound in 2014. Even my ranking of 16th, the highest of all the Mile High Report staffers, could be overly pessimistic. We shall see...
21. Pittsburgh Steelers (2013 Record: 8-8)
Personally, in spite of Topher's opinion of him, I think Mike Tomlin is exactly the kind of head coach that epitomizes what the Pittsburgh Steelers stand for and it was his grit and determination that pulled this club from the fiery hole they found themselves in last year to a respectable .500 record at the end of the year. When you have an elite quarterback, the sky is the limit.
Key Losses: Emmanuel Sanders, Jonathan Dwyer, Ziggy Hood, David Johnson, LaMarr Woodley, Ryan Clark, Jerricho Cotchery
Key Acquisitions: Mike Mitchell, LeGarrette Blount, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Arthur Moats, Lance Moore, Cam Thomas
The Steelers approached free agency in an intelligent manner, targetting holes at safety, wide receivers and defensive tackle. I do think Blount is the perfect style of running back for their offensive philosophy, but they are still going to have trouble with the lack of talent at wide receiver. It will once again be up to Ben Roethlisberger to hang tough in the pocket and make plays, cause these guys are not going to get open consistently. It should help those offensive woes that the Steel Curtain may have the best linebacker corps in the NFL now.
Looking ahead, the Steelers schedule appears to be quite friendly. Aside from divisional matchups, the only games I see that could pose severe mismatches would be a trip to face the Carolina Panthers and home games against the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. The Saints game could be severely affected by the weather as it is scheduled later in the season. Given that, I'll say eight wins, with a potential of ten or eleven if this team continues the success they had at the end of last season.
Projected Record: 8-8
Kyle: This team is hard to figure out, but impossible to count out.
Jon: Write this down: Le’Veon Bell is soon going to become a household name. Watch for him to breakout in 2014.
Laurie: Unfortunately, Ben Roethlisberger always gives the Steelers a chance. But with losing WR Emmanuel Sanders to the Broncos, and suiting up an aging defense, even Ben won’t be able to conjure up that much magic to help his team.
Topher: Mike Tomlin is like George Seifret who took over for the 49ers after Walsh retired. He went on to win more than enough games and Super Bowls but once he left San Francisco you saw what he really was, a great position coach that was riding his predecessors team to glory. Tomlin is the same way, while he has the glory now that the great team that was built before he took over is fading we see what he really is, overrated. The Steelers have been fading for years and this is likely the first year in a long time the Steelers have a losing record. They have almost zero offensive talent and their defense is WAY past old at this point. Roethlisberger will use his willpower to carry this team to some wins but at his age he isn’t going to stay healthy long.
Jacob: The Steelers clearly know that their defense is close to ancient, using their top two picks in the 2014 draft to take future defensive starters, Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt. Despite these picks, the defense is a shade of it’s former self, as is the offense led by Big Ben. The Steelers are no longer contenders to win the AFC North, let alone make waves in the playoffs as they did consistently in years past. 6-8 wins.
Pete: Their defense is a shell of its former self, yet they’ll remain competitive. With Big Ben behind center, anything is possible. I’m higher on him this year than in years past even though there is no logical reason for my optimism.
Scotty: The Steelers are an aging team who’s missing an identity.