The Pittsburgh Steelers are a lock to win Super Bowl LIII (knock on wood), and I’ll tell you why.
Le’Veon Bell. Ben Roethlisberger. Antonio Brown. Joe Haden. Cameron Heyward. David DeCastro. Jesse James. Roosie Nix. T.J. Watt. Terrell Edmunds. Morgan Burnett.
Pick a position on this team and name a starter. It’s easy. No matter what position you think of, the Pittsburgh Steelers contain a star to headline the depth chart. But it isn’t a star-studded roster that makes this team ready for a ring.
I’ll tell you what does. I’ll explain exactly why, how every detail, makes this team the the favorite for Super Bowl LIII.
Here’s number one. There was absolutely no way the Pittsburgh Steelers should’ve lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Divisional round, last year. But they did.
In a game that was just as embarrassing as the first, Pittsburgh left their Super Bowl hopes on the field, during their first playoff game. They said all season how the loss to the Patriots stuck in their head. Think that was bad? Trying coming back with everyone thinking your coach is overrated and your team isn’t as good as it looks.
Last year, it was a group of players with a head of steam, simply looking for revenge. This year, it’s guys who know where they went wrong. It’s not trying to redeem themselves, but fix their mistakes and improve.
From players to coach to front office. The adjustments have been made, players have been added and coaching changes followed. Whether anyone wanted to admit it or not, Mike Mitchell needed Todd Haley needed to be removed. Not for generic replacements, but for real improvements. That happened with Morgan Burnett and Randy Fichtner.
Le’Veon Bell isn’t carrying this offense in 2018. He’ll touch the ball 400 times, again, but won’t be the focal point of the scheme. The one thing Todd Haley did wrong in Pittsburgh was not give Ben Roethlisberger control. That’s going to change.
Expect no huddle, play changes at the line and no more of the short yardage passes on third and 10. This is a team now run by a quarterback. A Hall of Fame one by that matter. Who knows how to run an offense as much as anyone in the league.
His time is running out. Retirement is a ghost that meets everyone, and Ben knows this. He says three to five years, but we all know it’s until he wins a Super Bowl. Mason Rudolph will be ready by next season. He won’t be the starter if Ben is still around, but who wouldn’t want to go out on top? At 36-years-old, you host the Lombardi above your head in front of millions of fans, it’s nearly impossible to let yourself go back and not leave as the best in the world.
This is all on top of his weapons. Le’Veon Bell is only going to be better. It’s sad to say he’ll adjust to missing the summer, but it’s the truth. He’ll start slow but work into a groove. By year’s end, he’ll be a top three running back in yardage, touchdowns and receptions. He’ll probably be a top 10 receiver in some receiving categories, as well.
Antonio Brown, what can we say about Antonio Brown. He’s the best wide receiver in the NFL, looking at at least 1,600 yards. What we watched last season was the beginning of a man looking to finish his career as the greatest to ever play.
His colleagues, JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington are already an upgrade from last season. Eli Rogers not being around (yet) hurts, but outside of the backup slot receiver, this core has exceeded the talent it contained in 2017.
The upgrades include everything, and everyone. Lets start with Mike Mitchell being gone. He was a risk in coverage, and a bigger casualty when it came to tackling. He always tried to make whoever he was approaching feel the wrath of his 200-pound frame. The problem was that half the time he missed.
Morgan Burnett isn’t a Pro Bowler, but he is reliable. Send him back in coverage and let Sean Davis be the hitter and your safety core is already more dependable.
Then, there is Cameron Sutton. Not having to worry about William Gay missing an assignment makes life easier for everyone. This allows Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt to play more edge rush and less drop back. It also makes life easier on Joe Haden and Artie Burns in covering deep routes.
No one should be sold on Mike Hilton being as productive as he was in 2017. Whether or not that was a luck of the draw season is yet to be decided. But right now, you can assume he’ll be productive, once again.
Getting rid of Martavis Bryant was the best thing Pittsburgh did in years. Not only did it bring in Mason Rudolph, and finally end the debate on when this team should bring in their next quarterback, but it gave Ben Roethlisberger someone he can count on.
Bryant was a dropped pass waiting to happen every time Ben looked his way. 50 receptions on 84 targets is not someone you want around long-term. Especially when the rest of this receiving core can compete as one of the best in the league.
James Washington hasn’t touched an NFL field, yet, but already appears to be better than Bryant was in all three years in Pittsburgh. His speed and explosiveness will make him another Antonio Brown down the sideline. As long as he can catch the ball, he’s exceed anything Bryant was brought here to do.
Not convinced, yet? That’s fine. I know what you’re thinking, “what about the rest of the league getting better?”
That true, the NFL has gotten better over the offseason. But the NFL was good last year. People expected teams like the Patriots and Eagles to do what they did. Everyone looked at Green Bay and Atlanta as teams who could dethrone Tom Brady.
This year isn’t any different. Pittsburgh has more all-around talent in 2017 than most of the NFL. That has only remained the same in 2018. The league has progressed, but so has the Steelers. So, saying the NFL has “only gotten better,” implicates that so have the Steelers, and the pyramid has stayed the same.
So, bring on 2018 and this league full of unbeatable teams. Pittsburgh is ready. They’ve only improved, and grown smarter with age. And 2018 is the year the bring home a ring, and Super Bowl LIII.