2015 Pittsburgh Predictions
The Pittsburgh Steelers took the AFC North division title a year ago, in what was the NFL’s most competitive division. The Steelers mustered an 11-5 record, despite fielding their statistically worst defense since 1991. The Steelers once again will be a little shoddy on the defensive side of the football this year, but they’re ripe with talent on offense to offset that.
2014 record: 11-5
Steelers Odds to win 2015 AFC Conference: 13/1
Steelers Odds to win 2015 Super Bowl: 23/1
Getting off on the right foot is going to be a challenge for this team, especially going into New England, against a Patriots team that will now have Tom Brady at QB.
Add to that the fact that the Steelers will be without start running back Le’Veon Bell who will miss the first two games of the season with a suspension. Wide receiver Martavis Bryant will be out as well, serving a month long suspension.
That being said, the Steelers are not without a share of weapons, and while DeAngelo Williams is not quite Le’Veon Bell, he is a solid back who is capable of carrying the brunt of the workload out of the backfield. What will be interesting to watch is how/if the Steelers choose to use newly acquired QB Michael Vick, whose mobility even at 35 years of age, adds a new wrinkle to this offense.
On defense, there’s shortcomings to be sure and this not the Steelers of old. The 2014 Steelers finished in the bottom half of NFL defenses (18th) for the first time since 1991 and they are without defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. They do boast a pair of impressive defensive ends in Stephon Tuitt and Cameron Heyward who are both first round picks and William Gay and Cortez Allen will split as the field generals in the secondary now that Troy Palamalu has retired.
Up the middle on defense though this team needs some guys to come up big, namely the likes of Shamarko Thomas and Mike Mitchell at safety, as well as second year inside linebacker Ryan Shazier (another first round pick), who missed seven games last season.
Back to the offense, this team has weapons galore and it starts and ends with the killer B’s. Big Ben at QB, Martavis Bryant, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell are all capable of putting a team on their back on any given night and the wealth of options that this team can attack with is going to make them tough to stop when they’re clicking.
This team scored 436 points a season ago, and for some perspective that’s just 22 fewer points than the Indianapolis Colts scored, who were regarded by many as one of the AFC’s most prolific offenses.
Steelers Betting Outlook:
At 13/1 odds to win the AFC this team is going to get a lot of action, but I’d wait on betting on them until after week two when Bell returns. A 1-1 start seems very probable as they’ll be in very tough against the Pats in the NFL season opener. That start could bump their odds to somewhere around 16/1, but make no mistake, when this team gets everyone back they’re going to be tough.
Steelers 2015 Prediction:
Their 11 wins last year were a bit misleading as they absolutely crushed the Colts and Ravens, scoring a combined 94 points in those back to back wins.
This team also dropped games to the Buccaneers, Jets, and took a 31-10 beat down at the hands of the Browns. It was hard to get on board with the Steelers last year as they just never seemed to be able to stay hot long, running off multiple three game win streaks before getting beat by considerably weaker teams.
The 2015 Steelers can win 11 again and this time around there should be no question about their legitimacy as they should go 3-1 against the NFC West. The North is marginally weaker as I think the Bengals are just not very good this year and the Browns are not good either.
The North will be back to the way it has been for ages with the Ravens and Steelers battling for top spot and the Bengals will slip to out of the race. I like the Steelers to win this division as their offense is just too potent and they can overpower the Ravens in that respect.
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