Sunday, August 14, 2016

PITTSBURGH STEELERS - 2016 Season Preview

PITTSBURGH STEELERS                                                                              

2015 Record:  10-6-0

Head Coach:  Mike Tomlin

New Faces for 2016 - TE Ladarius Green, OL Ryan Harris, DL Steven Johnson, DL Ricardo Mathews

OFFENSE:  Ben Roethlisberger returns for his 13th NFL season after passing for 3,938 yards with 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Landry Jones (513 yards, three TD and four INT in 2015) and journeyman Bruce Gradkowski are the backup quarterbacks.
Le'Veon Bell (556 rushing yards, 4.9 ypc average and three TD) is slated to be the staring halfback, but he is facing a four-game suspension (after a two-game suspension last year) in addition to coming off an injury riddled season in 2015 that limited him to just six games.
If Bell isn't able to go right away, the Steelers have DeAngelo Williams back again after a good season in which he ran for 907 yards (4.5 ypc) with eleven touchdowns and also 40 receptions in Bell's absence. That is a good one-two combo in the backfield.
The wide receiving corps will be without Martavis Bryant this season as he is suspended for violation of NFL substance abuse policies.
Antonio Bryant is the top wide receiver in the NFL, making 136 catches last year for 1,834 yards and had ten touchdowns. Markus Wheaton (44, 749, five TD) and Sammie Coates are the other wideouts along with Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had 21 receptions for 314 yards and two scores.
The tight ends will be Ladarius Green (limited by injuries with San Diego last season) and Jesse James, who played sparingly last year. They are looking to fill the void left by the retirement of Heath Miller.

DEFENSE:  Daniel McCullers is the nose tackle in the 3-4 defense while Stephon Tuitt (6 1/2 QB sacks) and Cameron Heyward (seven sacks) play the ends. Jason Hargrave (rookie from South Carolina State) helps along with Ricardo Mathews and L.T. Walton to provide depth.
The linebackers are Jarvis Jones and Bud Dupree on the outside while Lawrence Timmons (five sacks) and Ryan Shazier man the inside. Vince Williams, Arthur Moats, James Harrison and Steven Johnson will fill in.
The secondary has cornerbacks William Gay (two interceptions) and Ross Cockrell (two INT) along with safeties Robert Golden and Mike Mitchell, who had three picks. Rookies Artie Burns (Miami, FL) and Sean Davis (Maryland) will get their chance as well.

OUTLOOK:  In spite of not having their best deep threat in the passing game and possibly not having their top running back for the first four games, the Steelers offense is among the best in the game.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continues to be the unquestioned leader of the team and along with Bryant and Bell, form a trio to be reckoned with. The Steelers averaged 26.4 points per game while ranking third in offense a year ago, gaining 395 yards per game.
The defense was decent overall, allowing 20 points per game but the pass defense was woeful, giving up 272 yards per game and getting torched on a regular basis. That has to improve.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin has a Super Bowl title on his resume and would love to see this team make it another one come February. It's possible the Steelers could be in the Super Bowl as long as they stay healthy and the pass defense shows it can cut the mustard.
Look for Pittsburgh to be in contention in the AFC and make a deep playoff run that could result in another Super Bowl championship.

Fearless forecast -  12-4 this year (playoff team)

Week 1 - at Washington
Week 2 - vs. Cincinnati
Week 3 - at Philadelphia
Week 4 - vs. Kansas City
Week 5 - vs. NY Jets
Week 6 - at Miami
Week 7 - vs. New England
Week 8 - BYE
Week 9 - at Baltimore
Week 10 - vs. Dallas
Week 11 - at Cleveland
Week 12 - at Indianapolis
Week 13 - vs. NY Giants
Week 14 - at Buffalo
Week 15 - at Cincinnati
Week 16 - vs. Baltimore
Week 17 - vs. Cleveland 

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