7-5, 1st AFC North
Will The Le’Veon Bell Drama End Well? - Pittsburgh is preparing to start the season without Le’Veon Bell, which automatically seems like this question is answered already. There is more to the story as offensive lineman have been calling out Bell for not taking the money and playing for the team. Bell is concerned about usage, and also continues to look for a huge deal to reward him for his play. While Bell has a point, the Steelers are likely going to go elsewhere when he is a free agent next season. It is hard to see Pittsburgh signing him to a deal, and right now Bell’s status for early season games is up in the air.
What To Expect From JuJu In Year 2? - The Steelers have ranked inside the top ten in passing attempts over the last two seasons, and you know this offense is going to put up points. Juju Smith-Schuster landed the WR2 role easily last season, as Martavis Bryant struggled on and off the field. He had a huge year, and in this offense we don’t see much downside for him this season. The volume will be there, and unless his skillset falls off a cliff, which is unlikely, he is a strong option. James Washington will play the WR3 role, but won’t eat into his workload one bit.
Did Pittsburgh Draft Their Next QB/WR Duo? - The Steelers know Ben Roethlisberger’s days are coming to an end soon, and they went out and drafted Mason Rudolph out of Oklahoma State in the third round. They also drafted James Washington to go with him, and they already have a report playing for the same team. Washington is going to jump into a WR3 role, which is a nice spot to be still in year one. Rudolph will take a seat, barring injury, and learn for a year or two. This duo could be the future of the Steelers as the Triple B era winds down. Keep an eye on these two over the next few seasons.
Is The Steelers Line Primed For Another Strong Year? - With an aging quarterback and running back, although Bell has gone awol, the offensive line is going to need to have some strong performances. They face some good defensive lines within the division, and eight games can be tough. Maurkice Pouncey is still a strong option in the middle of the line, and Marcus Gilbert is going to be a decent fill-in option. David DeCastro is the glue of this offensive line, and easily one of the best in the business. Unless injuries strike, Pittsburgh should continue to boast a near top five offensive line. One injury, this could be trouble.
Can The Defense Hang? - The front four is where Pittsburgh will thrive, but after that things get a little dicey. T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree are the big names that will bring a lot of pressure and playmaking ability. The Ryan Shazier injury was a huge blow to this team, and they have yet to find any sort of replacement, which is very hard to do. The final line of defense is likely the worst part of this defense, and the corners are average at best. This could be where we see some shootouts given the offense is going to put others in a pass first mode.