Days Until Football is a series in which I preview every NFL team, one a day at a time until the NFL season starts on September 6th. It will preview offense, defense, and give a prediction for the team’s record. Also, I will list a fantasy star and sleeper. Here is the Pittsburgh Steelers preview.
Last year, the Steelers underachieved. With the “Killer B’s’ all healthy on offense, there is no excuse for the Steelers to be a first round exit. Le’Veon Bell has had contract disputes with the Steelers for years, and now it may be his last year with the team.
After Todd Haley moved on to the Browns, former quarterbacks coach Randy Fichter took over as offensive coordinator. The numbers from the big three were basically the same last year, but the red zone production was awful. They attempted 34 field goals within 40 yards and ranked 18th in the red zone offense. Le’Veon Bell registered his lowest yards per carry, but has developed as a pass catcher each year. He improved in receiving yards and catch rate last year. Antonio Brown is the consensus best receiver in the league and it makes sense. He has six 1,000-yard seasons and at least 10 yards per reception in all eight of his years. JuJu Smith-Schuster has an awful twitter account, but he is a great talent. Schuster started slow the first half of the season, but exploded after that. He got 686 of his 917 total yards in the final seven games of the season. Jesse James has been a solid tight end for the last two years, but looks to be the backup to Vance McDonald this year, if he can stay healthy.
After the devastating injury of Ryan Shazier in week 12, the Steelers never recovered, emotionally and playmaking wise. Joe Haden is not what he used to be, but Artie Burns progressed in his second year and needs to be a clear top corner. Former Packer Morgan Burnett was signed after hard-hitting safety Mike Mitchell was released. The Steelers also spent their first-round pick on Terrell Edmunds, and Mike Hilton was been a good starter his entire career. Cameron Heyward is undoubtedly the best player on the front four, but TJ Watt had a great rookie season, totaling seven sacks. Bud Dupree was not too far behind with six. With Ryan Shazier being ruled out for all of next season, the Steelers will have to count on Jon Bostic or Vince Williams.
Predictions for Steelers
I think the Steelers will go 11-5, first in the NFC North. The “Killer B’s” always have great stats, and Schuster and James are good options. The defense looked lost without Ryan Shazier and the secondary is young and unknown. Artie Burns has to be the 1 corner while Morgan Burnett has to live up to his contract. Heyward is great, but there is not much more on the front four.
Fantasy Star – Le’Veon Bell
Fantasy Sleeper – James Washington