The Pittsburgh Steelers surprised a lot of people by going 11-5 in 2014, winning their first AFC North title since their Super Bowl season in 2010. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they weren’t able to translate their success in the regular season to the playoffs, losing at home in the first round to rival Baltimore 17-30.

Needless to say, the Steelers will be a threat to repeat as division champs in 2015 and make a deeper run in the postseason, but in order for that to happen, their defense has to get better. Something that won’t be easy with the departure of long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

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), Brandon Boykin (CB)
 Brett Keisel (DE), Troy Polamalu (SS), Ike Taylor (CB), Jason Worilds (OLB), Ben Tate (RB), Lance Moore (WR), Brice McCain (CB)
2015 Schedule & Odds
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
Roster Breakdown

It wasn’t that long ago that there were rumblings that offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger weren’t on the same page. That’s certainly not the case after Pittsburgh’s offense exploded in 2014. The Steelers finished 2nd in the NFL in total offense (411.1 ypg) and 7th in scoring (27.2 ppg). Roethlisberger threw for a career-high 4,952 yards (previous best was 4,328) and his 32 touchdown passes was the most he has posted since 2007.

With all 11 starters back on the offensive side of the ball, Pittsburgh could very well feature the most explosive offense in the NFL in 2015. While it all starts with Roethlisberger’s play at quarterback, the team MVP was running back Le’Veon Bell, whose 1,361 rushing yards was 2nd only to DeMarco Murray. Bell wasn’t just a factor on the ground, he had 83 receptions for 854 yards, easily leading all running backs in that department. Not to mention, he’s an exceptional blocker.

Not only does Pittsburgh have one of the top quarterbacks and running backs in the league, but they have one of the elite wide receivers in the game in Antonio Bryant, who hauled in an impressive 129 receptions for 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. Bryant is without question the No. 1 option, but the Steelers are also expecting big contributions out of youngsters Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. They also used a 3rd round pick on Auburn’s Sammie Coates.

Almost every great offense starts with strong play up front on the offensive line and that was certainly the case for Pittsburgh’s front 5 in 2014. Good news is that all 5 starters are back. The unit is led by elite center Maurkice Pouncey, who is without question one of the most important pieces on this side of the ball.

If only the Steelers could go back in time and couple their current offense with their stingy defenses from years past. Instead they will be forced to try and outscore, while hoping a young defense will develop over the season under the guidance of new defensive coordinator Keith Butler, who has been promoted from linebackers coach. Butler will maintain the same principles that LeBeau used, but will try and simplify things to make it easier on this young unit.

Several of the aging veterans that once played big roles are no longer around. Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Jason Worilds all retired in the offseason and veteran defensive end Brett Keisel wasn’t re-signed.

Up front on the defensive line, Pittsburgh will be counting on another strong season from Cameron Heyward, who had a breakout season with 7.5 sacks. Heyward will be joined in the trenches with nose tackle Steve McLendon and 2nd-year defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who the Steelers are really counting on to make a big jump after a disappointing rookie season.

The biggest addition on defense came in the draft, where the Steelers used their 1st round pick on Kentucky outside linebacker Bud Dupree. Pittsburgh is hoping that Dupree can step in and spark a pass rush that managed just 33 sacks (26th) in 2014. They also are counting on former 1st round pick Jarvis Jones to have a breakout year, as he will start opposite of Dupree on the outside. At the 2 inside spots, 2nd-year linebacker Ryan Shazier will team up with veteran Lawrence Timmons.

Due in part to their lack of a pass rush, Pittsburgh’s secondary was torched consistently in 2014. The Steelers pass defense ranked a mere 27th in the league, giving up an average of 253.1 ypg. They had plans of starting 2nd round pick Senquez Golson at corner right away, but a shoulder injury suffered in training camp could sideline him for the year. That will leave Cortez Allen and William Gay as the two starters on the outside, with Shamarko Thomas and Mike Mitchell at safety. Pittsburgh also acquired corner Brandon Boykin from the Philadelphia Eagles and he could end up fighting his way into the starting lineup.

Future Odds
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the AFC
to Win Super Bowl L
13 to 1
31 to 1
Odds Courtesty of 5Dimes

It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Pittsburgh defended their AFC North title, as I don’t think there’s a whole lot that separates them from the Ravens or Bengals, but I don’t think that will be case. As good as the offense may be, they aren’t going to be able to put teams away because of their defense.

You also have to factor in the Steelers schedule, which is arguably the toughest of any team in the league. While all 4 AFC North teams have to play the other 4 teams out of the AFC West and NFC West, Pittsburgh draws matchups against both the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots in their two-cross division matchups out of the AFC. Their 5 away games outside of their 3 division contests come against the likes of the Patriots, Rams, Chargers, Chiefs and Seahawks. They also have 3 brutal home games against the Broncos, Colts and Cardinals outside of their two matchups with Cincinnati and Baltimore.

I just think the lack of talent on defense and the brutal schedule that faces them, will be too much for the Steelers to overcome. I have Pittsburgh finishing 3rd in the division with a disappointing 9-7 record. Keep in mind, that Vegas has only set their win total at 8.5, which says a lot about a team coming off an 11-win campaign.

AFC North Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
OVER 8.5
Steelers 10-Year Recap
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

Mike Frazer

Mike Frazer

OVER 8.5 Wins – Pittsburgh’s offense is just too powerful. They have a top-three player at QB, RB and WR, a killer deep threat, a stout line and great depth across the entire offense. The offense will completely control the tempo of most games. If the defense can simply rank in the top 15 or 20, it’s going to be almost impossible for most teams to keep up in a shootout. If they can manage a 10-15 ranking, they will be unstoppable. I’m expecting the 15-20 ranking, though, and that makes this at least an 11-win team, especially if Tom Brady winds up missing the opener.

Ben Anderson

Ben Anderson

OVER 8.5 Wins – I have the Steelers going 10-6, 2nd in the AFCN. Their personnel losses were mainly retirements of players past their primes or very average and easily replaceable.

More significant is that the Steelers’ 2015 opponents were 29-69-1 when allowing >=21 points last year. The only team with a winning record in those circumstances? New England at 4-3. The Steelers were 6-4 under the same. This is not your father’s Steelers team. This team will win because of their offense.


Perry Biggerstaff

OVER 8.5 Wins – The Steelers will win 10 or 11 games. The Packers and the Colts are the only teams that match us offensively. Our Defense will surprise as Tuitt, Shazier, and Boykins are the difference makers. Tuitt and Heyward are monstrous DE bookends. Shazier is healthy and a hungry Boykins will flourish in a cover 2 and will be the best CB on the roster. Keep an eye on the safety position as that could be a pivotal key to our season. Thomas is still an unknown quantity.

Tony Defeo

Tony Defeo

OVER 8.5 Wins – The Steelers had the best offense in franchise history in 2014 and this season figures to be even better. The defense may be a work in progress, but look for big things from Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons in 2015. Despite a tough schedule, I’m thinking this team goes 12-4 and has a championship run.

The Steelers Fans

Steven Alan

OVER 8.5 Wins – I think taking the over for the Steelers this year should be a safe bet. Even though the Steelers have a harder schedule, the team is stacked with offensive talent, and I expect them to put up big numbers statistically like they did in 2014.

Defensive coaching changes, combined with the youth movement, should make for noticeable improvements on that front. I see the team going 11-5.

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