The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2018 regular season on Sept. 6. Up next in our preseason rankings are the top-heavy Pittsburgh Steelers.
2017 in a nutshell: Killer offensive trio Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown dominates once again as the Steelers win double-digit games and win the AFC North once again. But once again, they fall short of the Super Bowl, surrendering 45 points to the Jaguars in a divisional round loss.
What’s different: Offensive coordinator Todd Haley is gone, and they’re moving a lot quicker on that side of the ball under the tutelage of new coordinator Randy Fichtner.
Why they could be awesome: Ben, Bell, Brown. And don’t forget about up-and-comers JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.J. Watt.
Why they could suck: If Ben, Bell or Brown goes down, they’ll be in big trouble.
Major additions: Safety Morgan Burnett, wide receivers James Washington and Ryan Switzer and rookie first-round linebacker Terrell Edmunds.
Major losses: Safety Mike Mitchell, offensive tackle Chris Hubbard.
Breakout watch: Smith-Schuster already broke out as a rookie wide receiver in 2017, but there appears to be a lot more to come from Watt. The first-round pick had two sacks, an interception, five tackles and a batted pass in his NFL debut but got hurt the following week and wasn’t quite the same the remainder of the year. Look for Watt to take a big step forward in his second season.
Position to watch: There’s a lot going on at linebacker. Tragically, Ryan Shazier has already been ruled out for the season. That’ll put more pressure on both Watt and Bud Dupree, but it’s worth noting that undrafted rookie Ola Adeniyi has been putting on a show this month. Of course, those are the outside ‘backers. They’re just trying to take some heat off the inside guys, who don’t stand out right now. They’re looking for something from Vince Williams, Tyler Matakevich and/or Jon Bostic.
Prediction: They’re clearly the cream of the crop in the AFC North, and they’ll contend for the Lombardi Trophy yet again.
11-5, 1st place in the AFC North