Pittsburgh Steelers Predictions

The Pittsburgh Steelers got back to the playoffs last year after back-to-back underwhelming 8-8 seasons. They won their final four games of 2014 to finish 11-5 and in first place in the AFC North. Unfortunately, they would lose to their division rivals in the Baltimore Ravens by a final of 30-17 in the wild card round.

The offense carried the team last year in finishing second in the NFL at 411.1 yards per game. It returns every starter and will be explosive once again. But the defense must get back to its old ways after finishing 18th in total defense (353.4 yards/game). The Steelers managed just 33 sacks last year, their lowest total since 1989, and gave up 4.4 yards per carry.

The schedule won’t do the Steelers any favors this year after winning their division. Their upcoming opponents combined for a .578 winning percentage last season, which is the highest in the league. They also have to travel to face Seattle, San Diego, Kansas City and St. Louis after playing no games west of the Mississippi River in 2014. After parlaying a soft schedule into an 11-win campaign last year, will Pittsburgh be able to defend its AFC North title in 2015? Let’s take a look.

Last Season
AFC North
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Bud Dupree (OLB), Senquez Golson (CB), Sammie Coates (WR), Doran Grant (CB), Jesse James (TE), Leterrius Walton (DT), Anthony Chickillo (DE), Gerod Holliman (FS)
DeAngelo Williams (RB), Tajh Boyd (QB)
Brett Keisel (DE), Troy Polamalu (SS), Ike Taylor (CB), Jason Worilds (OLB), Lance Moore (WR), Brice McCain (CB)
2015 Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 @ Patriots +6.5 0.28
2 49ers -2.5 0.55
3 @ Rams +1 0.49
4 Ravens -2.5 0.55
5 @ Chargers +1 0.49
6 Cardinals -2.5 0.55
7 @ Chiefs +1 0.49
8 Bengals -3 0.59
9 Raiders -9.5 0.82
10 Browns -7.5 0.78
11 BYE
12 @ Seahawks +5.5 0.31
13 Colts -2.5 0.55
14 @ Bengals +1 0.49
15 Broncos -1 0.51
16 @ Ravens +2 0.47
17 @ Browns -3 0.59
Estimated Wins: 8.51

Mike Tomlin believes the Steelers could have the best offense in the NFL in 2015. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off the best season of his career, becoming the first player in franchise history to win the passing title with 4,952 yards. He also threw 32 touchdowns and only nine interceptions as the catalyst of the offense.

But Roethlisberger has two of the best weapons in football at his disposal. Le’Veon Bell rushed for 1,361 yards and led all NFL running backs with 854 receiving yards. He has quickly become the best all-around back in the NFL. Unfortunately, he’ll be suspended for the first two games of the season due to off-the-field issues. Antonio Brown may be the most underrated receivers in the league. He led the NFL in catches (129) and receiving yards (1,698) last season, and he also took a punt back for a touchdown on special teams.

Finding more playmakers other than Bell and Brown is a necessity. Martavis Bryant didn’t see any action until Week 7, but he was able to come up with some big performances down the stretch. He had five catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns in the upset win over the Colts. Look for third-round rookie Sammie Coates to serve as the deep threat that the Steelers were missing last year. He has the height, weight and speed of a freakish athlete who could crack the lineup in Year One. Heath Miller remained productive last year with 66 receptions for 761 yards and three touchdowns.

Bell missed the playoff loss to Baltimore due to injury, so the Steelers really need him to be on the field. He’ll be running behind an offensive line that finally stayed healthy last year and put it all together. All five starters will be returning. This unit is anchored by center Maurkice Pouncey, who is one of the best at his position in the league. Right guard David DeCastro and left guard Ramon Foster are coming off solid campaigns as well. Pittsburgh’s tackles are decent Kelvin Beachum on the blind side and Marcus Gilbert in the right side. Beachum allowed four sacks outside of an ugly performance against Tampa Bay, while Gilbert yielded only three sacks following Week 2.


The Steelers have been playing with an aging defense for years, so it’s no surprise that they finally started to show signs of slowing down on this side of the ball the past couple seasons. But management has made an effort to get more youthful on this side of the ball through the draft. They have certainly executed that plan as the average age of the Steelers’ projected starting defense is 26.5. That number drops if first-round pick Bud Dupree earns a starting gig.

Pittsburgh bids farewell to stalwarts Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Jason Worilds this offseason. It knew that both Polamalu and Taylor would be retiring at season’s end, so it had a game plan already in place. These two were both terrible last year, so the Steelers can only be better in the secondary after ranking 27th against the pass (253.1 yards/game) and 25th in interceptions (11) in 2014.

They used their second-round pick on CB Senquez Golson out of Ole Miss. He should start right away across from William Gay, who was the best defensive back on the team last year. Also look for fourth-round rookie Doran Grant (Ohio State) to fight for playing time with Antwon Blake. Shemarko Thomas steps in at strong safety for Polamalu, and he’ll start next to incumbent free safety Mike Mitchell, who had plenty of bad tape last year. But a groin injury limited Mitchell’s effectiveness, so he can only be better in 2015.

To help out the secondary, the Steelers desperately need to find a pass rush. They had that in mind when they took Alvin Dupree in the first round. Dupree was expected to go in the Top 10 of the draft, so the Steelers believe they got a steal. Outside linebacker was a big need even before Worilds decided to leave the game because Jarvis Jones has yet to live up to expectations. Veteran James Harrison was re-signed after a surprising season in which he managed 5.5 sacks despite being limited to 11 games.

The only change up front is the fact that the aging Brett Keisel was not re-signed. The defensive line will be led by Cameron Heyward, whose 7.5 sacks last year was a big number for a five-technique. Heyward will start alongside run-stuffing nose tackle Steve McLendon and 2014 second-rounder Stephon Tuitt. The latter did not play well as a rookie last year, but the Steelers are expecting him to take a big step forward in Year Two.

The inside linebackers will be Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier. Timmons is one of the best players in the NFL at his position, but Shazier barely played last year due to multiple leg injuries. Shazier has the speed that gives him the ability to play in space, so the Steelers need him to stay healthy. Inside linebacker is the deepest position on the team, so the extra competition should bring out the best of him. In fact, the Steelers could be starting four former first-round picks at linebacker this season.

Odds (Courtesy of 5Dimes)
Season Win Total
to Make Playoffs
to Win AFC North
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl 50
Season Predictions

I believe the Steelers and neck-and-neck with the Baltimore Ravens talent-wise heading into the 2015 season. I give the Steelers the clear edge on offense, but the Ravens have the clear edge on defense. It will be another great AFC North race between these two teams. The Bengals are still a notch behind while the Browns are a couple notches behind.

The reason I’m picking the Steelers to finish second in the division is because of the schedule. They have the toughest schedule in the entire NFL on paper. They have to play the Colts and Patriots because they won their division last year, while the Ravens get the Jaguars and Dolphins from those same two divisions. I expect the Steelers to go 1-1 in those two games and the Ravens 2-0, which will have the Steelers falling one game short of first place at 10-6.

2015 Projections
AFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
Over 8.5
Steelers 10-Year Results
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 11 5 Lost WC Tomlin 8.5
2013 8 8 Tomlin 9
2012 8 8 Tomlin 10
2011 12 4 Lost WC Tomlin 10.5
2010 12 4 Lost SB Tomlin 8.5
2009 9 7 Tomlin 10.5
2008 12 4 Won SB Tomlin 9
2007 10 6 Lost WC Tomlin 9
2006 8 8 Cowher 10.5
2005 11 5 Won SB Cowher 9.5

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