Pittsburgh NFL Free Picks
The Pittsburgh Steelers weathered a litany of roster moves during the offseason following a disappointing 8-8 season, and now hope that all of that roster turnover will lead to wins on the field.
The team has enjoyed plenty of success under head coach Mike Tomlin, sitting at 30 games above .500 through his first seven years with the team, and they surely hope that those winning ways return soon.
Steelers 2013 Record: 8-8
Steelers AFC North Lines: +200
Steelers AFC Lines: +1600
Steelers Super Bowl Lines: +4000
Question number one for the Steeler offense is who will be catching passes opposite Antonio Brown. Brown took the step forward the team hoped he would in the No. 1 role last season, hauling in over 100 balls, but No. 2 receiver Emmanuel Sanders is gone, not to mention Jerrico Cotchery, and someone is going to have to step into that role for the team to be successful.
The team brought in wideouts Darrius Heyward-Bey and Lance Moore in the offseason, but it is expected that sophomore Markus Wheaton will be called upon to step up and fill that role. Fourth round pick Martavis Bryant out of Clemson could also carve out a role during the season, but there is certainly a lot of uncertainly with respect to the team’s receiving corps.
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Heyward-Bey hasn’t been able to deliver on the promise that made him an unlikely top 10 pick in the draft, Lance Moore thrived in a very specific role with an elite quarterback in New Orleans, Wheaton was a letdown in his rookie season, and Bryant is unproven.
At the very least, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has tight end Heath Miller to throw the ball to, and an improving backfield to lean on. As the team’s offensive line improves, so too should the fortunes of the team’s running backs.
Le’Veon Bell missed the start of the season, but carried a heavy load once he hit the field, and appears in line for significant touches again in his sophomore season. Bell established himself as a threat to run the ball, and catch it out of the backfield, though he needs to do a better job of imposing his big frame. That last part won’t be an issue for fellow running back LeGarrette Blout, who parlayed a strong back end to the season in New England into a new contract in Pittsburgh.
The defense lost some familiar names in the offseason, with safety Ryan Clark, linebacker LaMarr Woodley, defensive end Brett Keisel, linebacker Larry Foote, and defensive end Ziggy Hood all moving on.
The team now finds itself relying on a slew of youngsters on the defensive side of the ball. The group is headlined by first-round draft pick Ryan Shazier out of Ohio State, who is expected to start at linebacker from day one and make an immediate impact. Rookie defensive end Stephon Tuitt out of Notre Dame also looks to make a big impact along the defensive line.
Even with the influx of youth, there are still some old faces around, with 33-year-old safety Troy Polamalu and 34-year-old cornerback Ike Taylor expected to fill big roles within the team’s secondary.
Steelers Futures Pick & Outlook
The amount of turnover the Steelers endured during the offseason cannot be overstated. They were able to keep many of their key pieces, and the team’s system has produced stars out of lesser players before, but it feels like there will be some growing pains along the way this season, and the team is already coming off a year in which they started the campaign with an 0-4 record.
The Steelers have a lot of talent, and Roethlisberger certainly has something left in the tank, but it’s hard to imagine them faring much better than 9-7 this season.
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