To say the Pittsburgh Steelers will win the Super Bowl is certainly a bold statement.
After two consecutive 8-8 seasons where the team failed to make the playoffs, what would make anyone believe this team is capable of making a Super Bowl run?
Here’s 5 reasons why the Steelers can hoist their seventh Lombardi trophy this season.
1. Younger and faster
Old and slow no more. The Steelers’ defense has had an overhaul and cut ties with some of the older veterans. Though, some remain like Ike Taylor and Brett Kiesel (who the team recently brought back), but it also boasts younger players as well, players who will be asked to make an impact.
Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier seems he’ll be a commodity after a promising preseason while the pass rush has Jarvis Jones, Lawrence Timmons, Jason Worilds and Sean Spence. The pass rush should be the Steelers’ strongest point of defense.
There are still some variables that could hinder this defense as the secondary isn’t superb. The Steelers, instead of revamping the secondary, worked toward enhancing the pass rush in an effort to help the secondary. If the pass rush can excel then the secondary will find some improvement, but it starts up front.
On paper, this defense seems better than last season’s. Time will tell if younger and faster can lead this team into the Super Bowl.
2. Best backfield in years
Steelers’ football used to be a ground and pound game. But, in recent years, the backfield hasn’t been what it used to be. The rushing attack hasn’t been relevant since Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker were sharing carries, but this season that could change.
Le’Veon Bell, entering his sophomore season in the NFL, should pickup where he left off. Last season Bell rushed for 860 yards and eight touchdowns. It was a solid rookie season and after missing the first three weeks of the season, Bell revived the run game.
In addition to Bell, there’s LeGarrete Blount. Blount — acquired from the New England Patriots this offseason — is wonderful complement to Bell. He’s big and strong and will be a go-to in goal line situations. The Steelers’ struggled in the red zone last season, Blount will be an answer.
While the duo has been making headlines for other reasons, the organization should be excited to see what this tandem can do once the season gets going. This backfield could help lift the Steelers to the big dance.
Antonio Brown is one of the best receivers in the NFL. Brown reeled in 110 catches for 1,499 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He’s the number one receiver for the team and there should be no reason to doubt his ability to be a game changer.
As long as he’s a target for Ben Roethlisberger, the receiving game will have an elite player on hand. Brown is another reason the Steelers can make the Super Bowl.
4. A not-so-hard division
The AFC North hasn’t been the toughest division. Only one team last season — the Cincinnati Bengals — made the playoffs. The Steelers (8-8), Baltimore Ravens (8-8) and Cleveland Browns (4-12) watched from home. Even though the Bengals managed to make it to the playoffs, they made a quick exit after being pounded by the San Diego Chargers.
The division is very winnable for the Steelers. The Ravens and Bengals will also contend, but to go 11-5 or 10-6, that’s a record that could lock up a division title.
Winning the division will enhance the Steelers’ chances of making it to the Super Bowl.
5. Ben Roethlisberger
As long a No. 7 is your quarterback the chance to win is always there. Last season Roethlisberger kept this team alive down the stretch. Even with a 8-8 record the Steelers nearly slipped into the playoffs.
Big Ben, last season, threw for 4,261 yards, 28 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. It was another solid year for the franchise quarterback. Roethlisberger should be expecting a pay day come 2015 and another good season from him should raise the dollar amount.
He’s one of the few elite quarterbacks in the league and if he wasn’t the Steelers’ quarterback those 8-8 season’s would have surely been far worse.
He gives them a chance to win each and every game and for that, he gives them every chance to claim another Super Bowl, just as he did in the past.