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Pittsburgh Steelers Predictions

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The Steelers suffered their first non-winning season under head coach Mike Tomlin in 2012, finishing 3rd in the AFC North with an overall record of 8-8. While it certainly wasn’t up to Pittsburgh’s standard, this team wasn’t that far off from winning the division. The Steelers opened up with a strong 6-3 record before a string of unfortunate losses in the final two months. They went just 2-5 down the stretch run, but four of those losses came by 6-points or less. All but two of the Steelers eight losses came by that margin.

Turnovers and a lack of a running game were the two biggest things that hurt the Steelers in 2012. Pittsburgh ranked just 26th in the NFL with a mere 96.1 ypg on the ground and were near the bottom of the league with a surprising -10 turnover ratio. A big reason for that was the Steelers offense had 16 fumbles. There’s no question that ball security will be one of the focal points for Tomlin in training camp.

Last Season
AFC North
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
3rd
8-8
6-9-1
3-4-1
3-5
7-9
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
21st
1st
-10
21.0
19.6
2013 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Jarvis Jones (DE), Le’Veon Bell (RB), Markus Wheaton (WR), Shamarko Thomas (S), Landry Jones (QB), Terry Hawthorne (CB)
Additions
Bruce Gradkowski (QB), Matt Spaeth (TE), Guy Whimper (OT), William Gay (CB)
Losses
Rashard Mendenhall (RB), Mike Wallace (WR), Max Starks (OT), Willie Colon (G), Casey Hampton (NT), James Harrison (OLB), Keenan Lewis (CB)
Schedule
2013 Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/8 Titans
-7
0.75
9/16 @ Bengals
-1
0.49
9/22 Bears
-2.5
0.55
9/29 @ Vikings
-1.5
0.53
Week 5 BYE
10/13 @ Jets
-1.5
0.53
10/20 Ravens
-1.5
0.53
10/27 @ Raiders
-4.5
0.67
11/3 @ Patriots
+4
0.34
11/10 Bills
-7
0.75
11/17 Lions
-3.5
0.64
11/24 @ Browns
-3
0.59
11/28 @ Ravens
+2.5
0.45
12/8 Dolphins
-3.5
0.64
12/15 Bengals
-2.5
0.55
12/22 @ Packers
+3
0.41
12/29 Browns
-7.5
0.78
Estimated Wins: 9.20

The Steelers have a pretty favorable schedule in 2013. With their Week 4 matchup against the Vikings scheduled in London, they only have six true road games. With two of their first three games at home, they will have an excellent shot at opening up 3-1 before their Week 5 bye.

Pittsburgh will make or break their season during a seven-game stretch following their bye week. They have three favorable road matchups against the Jets, Raiders and Browns to go along with a couple of home games against the likes of the Bills and Lions. The two challenges in this stretch is a Week 7 home game against the Ravens and Week 8 showdown in New England.

While the Steelers have to travel to take on the Ravens and Packers over the final five games of the regular season, they should be able to finish up strong with three home games against the Dolphins, Bengals and Browns.

Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl XLVIII
9
12 to 1
28 to 1
Predictions

This may come as a bit of surprise to some, but I think the Steelers are poised to win the AFC North in 2013. There were the same questions surrounding this team after they went just 9-7 in 2009. All they did the next year is go 12-4 and win the Super Bowl. The schedule is certainly in their favor. They couldn’t have asked for an easier home schedule. The only team they will host outside the division who finished 2012 with a winning record is the Bears in Week 3. If this team can simply go 4-4 away from home, they should have no trouble reaching double-digit wins.

A lot of people forget that the Steelers were in the first year under offensive coordinator Todd Haley last season, who was the first offensive coordinator hired outside the organization in 13 years. Haley now has a clear understanding of what he has to work with and the players will have a better understanding of what’s expected out of them.

One of the things I think Haley wanted to do last year was get the Steelers back to being a run-first team, but injuries and the inability to hold on to the football, kept that from happening. It was a big reason why Pittsburgh used their second round draft pick on Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell. While Bell doesn’t possess game-changing speed, he’s the perfect fit for this offense. Not only can he carry a big workload, but he’s good in pass protection and a reliable receiver out of the backfield.

A lot of people are concerned about the loss of wide out Mike Wallace, but I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as most think. Wallace dropped several passes and was not a good fit in the lockerroom. Not having him around good be a blessing. They still have two very talented playmakers on the outside in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders and drafted a kid they really like in Markus Wheaton. The concern isn’t Wallace, it’s the health of tight end Heath Miller, who’s questionable for the start of the season after tearing his ACL in Week 15 last year.

Whether or not the Steelers are a legit Super Bowl contender will come down to the health of the offensive line. When healthy this unit can give Roethlisberger the time needed to make big plays down the field and can open up running lanes. There’s just not any depth behind the starting five.

Pittsburgh ranked No. 1 in total defense, allowing just 332.8 ypg. They had the top ranked pass defense and the second best run defense in the NFL. What surprising is that they did so despite recording a mediocre 37 sacks (T-15th). When the Steelers are at their best on this side of the ball, they put an enormous amount of pressure on the quarterback. I fully expect them to do just that in 2013. They replaced the declining James Harrison with rookie outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who I think was the best pass rusher in the draft. He fell out of the Top 10 because of spinal stenonis issues, but it didn’t stop him from registering 14.5 sacks in the SEC last year. They are also expecting a lot more out of veteran Lamaar Woodley, who was out of shape last year and has rededicated himself in the offseason.

While the Steelers lost starting corner Keenan Lewis, the secondary looks to be just as strong as it was in 2012. Third-year corner Cortez Allen played exceptionally well as the slot corner and three starts on the outside and could end up being an upgrade over Lewis. Ike Taylor returns at the other corner spot, while the veteran duo of Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark are back at safety.

Projections
NFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
1st
4-2
11-5
Over 9
Steelers Resources
More Steelers Predictions

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AFC
North
Steelers Ravens Bengals Browns
East
Patriots Jets Bills Dolphins
West
Broncos Chargers Chiefs Raiders
South
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NFC
North
Packers Bears Lions Vikings
East
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West
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South
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Sportsbook.ag
About the Author: Steve will be the first to tell you that College Football is his passion, but he enthusiastically follows the NFL, NBA, College Hoops, and Major League Baseball.
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