Ryan Pawloski previews the Steelers’ upcoming NFL season and considers whether they can prove the doubters wrong in 2020.
The Pittsburgh Steelers head into the 2020 season with a clean bill of health and some extra fire as they look to prove the doubters wrong. The Steelers from a season ago lost their starting quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger halfway through the second game and that trend continued throughout their lineup during the season. Now the team has low expectations, they will try their best to show that they are still a contending team after many years of disappointment.
The offense has run through Roethlisberger ever since he was drafted by the Steelers and now at 38 years old, his physical abilities might be back to normal. He seems to be in the best shape in his career and with his surgery to fix tendons in his throwing elbow, the sky might be the limit for him this year. NFL comeback player of the year is a real possibility for him as he currently sits as +350 odds of winning.
Other players coming off of disappointing years like James Conner and Juju Smith-Schuster will be big-time factors for this offense. If neither of them can get back to their pro bowl forms from a couple of seasons ago, then Roethlisberger will be struggling to make a balanced offensive attack.
With new offensive line starters, hopefully, that will bolster the run and pass protection so the offense has enough time to operate. Last season’s standouts, Diontae Johnson and James Washington look to further their success with a healed up starting quarterback as they try to help propel this offense going forward.
Tight-ends Vance McDonald and Eric Ebron look to be a monster duo for the Steelers as they seem to be the best tandem on paper that the team has had since Matt Spaeth and Heath Miller were on the team.
What can you say about this defense other than it is completely dominant? Last season this defense was able to drag the Steelers to an 8-8 record without any offense. This Blitzburgh defense was able to cause disruption and havoc against every offense they faced last season. That havoc led to causing 22 interceptions, 22 forced fumbles, and 54 sacks. This monster of a defense that also gained notoriety around the league as many of the players were nominated for their exploits. The defense had four pro bowlers and three First-team All-pros.
The biggest loss this offseason was Javon Hargrave, but Stephon Tuitt is returning from injury. With star players returning like TJ Watt, Cam Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Joe Haden, the sky is the limit for this team. If this squad can put together a similar output like last year and the offense can finish around the middle of the pack in the league or higher, the NFL will be put on notice, again.
The Steelers head into this season with very low expectations as many “experts” pick them to be the third-best team in their division and miss the playoffs. The odds for the Steelers winning the Super Bowl in the 2020-2021 season is +2200. That does not scream, that is a team carrying high expectations heading into the season.
When you look past the expectations and all the noise that isn’t around this team for once, you see a team that has the potential for amazing things. With the defense continuing their dominance and the improvement of the offense with the return of Roethlisberger, this team has a real shot. They had a shot to make the playoffs without an NFL quarterback last season. Now with a real player manning the helm for the offense, the chance of this team going into the playoffs and making a run is a real possibility.
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The Steelers have the second easiest schedule in the NFL heading into this season and have a real possibility to do better than this record. The Steelers also have the possibility to do worse because Tomlin’s teams do have the effect of playing down to their opponents at times. With the way the 2020 Steelers are constructed, this is a playoff team and it is also a team that can make some noise if or when they make the playoffs.
If the defense can stay at the same production rate as last season and the offense can finish around the middle of the pack or better, then this will be a very dangerous and difficult team for others to play against on Sundays.