2015 NFL Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers

2015 NFL Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers

The 2014 Steelers won the rough and tumble AFC North by riding one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses led by the terrifying trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and Le”Veon Bell. A franchise known for physical, intimidating defense seems to have assumed the identity being adopted by many other NFL teams — an identity built on a frenetic paced attack that attempts to overwhelm opposing defenses with splash plays and high energy. Adding fuel to the notion that these Steelers won’t be involved in too many low-scoring fistfights is the exit of longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and the retirement of key defenders who helped bring home a pair of Lombardi Trophies. The AFC North placed three teams in the playoffs in 2014, so it’s not a stretch to believe the same thing could happen again. However, a potentially below average defense will eventually come back to haunt them, no matter how potent their offense. Here’s a preview of the 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Outlook: Mike Tomlin pegged veteran linebackers’ coach Keith Butler to run the D, and despite his inexperience as a shotcaller, Butler is a solid choice for the job. But the retirement of four players and the release of another has left the defensive unit young and thin. Great attributes for supermodels, but not so much for dominant defenses. The aforementioned trio of Big Ben, Brown, and Bell (Four Bees?) tore up stat sheets last season, and barring injury, should do the same again. Brown and Bell combined to catch 212 passes, which is insane. If Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton take another step forward in their respective developments, the offense will once again be scary good.

Later, dude: Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark, and Jason Worilds all called it quits, and Brett Keisel was released. Only Worilds’ came as a surprise, but the cumulative effect of not having those five in the locker room and on the field will be felt for years to come. Reserve corner Brice McCain provided solid depth, but the $5.5 million contract Miami coughed up was too much to counter. Lance Moore notched only 14 receptions in 14 games a year ago, so he wasn’t asked back; he’ll try to make an impact on the Lions in 2015.

Welcome aboard: DeAngelo Williams is 32 and coming off a season in which he carried the ball a career low 62 times. He’s clearly past his prime, but he should be able to adequately spell Bell in the backfield. First-round OLB Bud Dupree may end up being a major steal if he can translate his pass-rushing prowess sooner than later. Rookie cornerback Senquez Golson is undersized, but he has the talent to push both Cortez Allen and William Gay if one falters. Ex Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates is raw and cursed with questionable hands, but his length and athleticism is promising.

Over/Under wins – 8.5: Vegas is obviously nervous about Pitt because 8.5 for a team that won 11 games a season ago and didn’t suffer significant losses is a tad curious. Then again, a secondary that finished 27th in yards allowed might be even worse. Also, the schedule is pretty brutal. Tough call here.

Bet the Over