The Steelers had their worst record since 2003 last season going 8-8 and still nearly making the playoffs without Ben Roethlisberger.
However, hopes are high this season with Big Ben back and a defense that should be great again after ranking fifth in the league last season.
Odds to win AFC North: +350
Odds to win AFC: +1200
Odds to win Super Bowl: +2500
Key Additions: The Steelers picked up TE Eric Ebron and FB Derek Watt. The team did not have a first-round pick after a great trade landing S Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Still, the team had a solid draft taking WR/TE Chase Claypool, LB Alex Highsmith, and RB Anthony McFarland in the second, third, and fourth rounds respectively.
Key Losses: Pittsburgh lost Pro Bowl FB Roosevelt Nix and NT Javon Hargrave.
The team stayed competitive with Big Ben missing nearly all of the season. He has to stay healthy, as his backups are Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges and they were decent at best last season.
Big Ben is coming off a major injury and is no spring chicken at 38 years old. If he can get back to old glory and the D plays well again the Steelers have a legit shot to challenge the defending AFC North champion Ravens.
The team is hoping addition Eric Ebron can fill the tight end void the team has had the last few seasons.
WR James Washington led the team with 736 receiving yards and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster looks to bounce back after an injury-marred season (12 games 552 yards) where the loss of Big Ben put a major damper on the passing attack.
RB James Conner led the team in rushing yards last season (464 yards) but only played in 10 games last season due to injury. He has a lot of pressure on him this season in his last one on his rookie contract.
Barry Snell Jr. rushed for 426 yards but failed to average over 3.9 yards per carry and Conner is the guy.
While Big Ben was a big loss last season and has to come back for the Steelers to make the playoffs so do Smith-Schuster and Conner, as two of the other big guns on offense.
The defense was what kept Pittsburgh in the playoff hunt last season and that unit should be strong again.
Their run defense could use some improvement and that needs to happen with Lamar Jackson and the running Ravens in the AFC North. T.J. Watt racked up 14.5 sacks and Bud Dupree had 11.5 sacks so the pass rush and secondary are solid and if the run D improves the Pittsburgh D may look like the dominant ones of the past.
The schedule favors the Steelers with their first two games facing the Giants and Broncos before a tough stretch facing the Texans, Titans, and Eagles. Then are two key AFC North games facing the Browns and the Ravens.
Prediction: I think the Steelers will be back this season with Big Ben back and the other players will feed off him and have big seasons. The D will be solid again and while I don’t see the team overtaking the Raves in the AFC North Pittsburgh will be in the playoffs and be a team nobody wants to face.