2013 Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Team Preview

Steelers Panthers NFL Preview2012 Wins: 8
AFC Conference Odds: +1100
Superbowl Odds: +3000

Odds Courtesy of 5dimes

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team making a transition. It’s difficult to call it a rebuild, but the team did manage just a .500 record and after losing a number of starters over the offseason, it’s difficult to prospect the team getting any better. NFL oddsmakers agree as 5dimes sets the Superbowl odds at +3000, giving 10 teams better odds at taking the title this season.

Ben Roethlisberger will keep the team perpetually competitive, but that may become more of a problem than a blessing if the Steelers hope to restructure their roster around youth and draft picks. Head coach Mike Tomlin will not talk of a rebuild, and he cites the fact that the team lost a lot of close games as hopes for a marked improvement in 2013. He said they weren’t “good enough” in such contests, yet as to how Tomlin plans on making a squad which most perceive to be less talented than last year’s into a better team is anyone’s guess.

Todd Haley has been trying something different with the offensive attack, and it doesn’t necessarily seem to be benefitting Big Ben. Under Bruce Arians, Roethlisberger had the chance to air it out more, and Haley has been working more on short pass plays.

Transitions can sometimes benefit a quarterback, but Roethlisberger is one who has already played to the highest levels under one system. Can he adjust at this point in his career? Should he have to?

These are the questions Steelers fans have to wonder, though many other NFL fans may say it isn’t ultimately that important since the Steelers represent an outside Wild Card threat at best.

Roethlisberger had a couple of bad interceptions last year which did cost the Steelers games, but it’s not as though many are insinuating having won the Bengals and Cowboys games would have made the then-10-win Steelers contenders. The team has mediocre running backs, and that’s actually an improvement over last season.

The Steelers got rid of Rashard Mendenhall after his odd suspension last season, but they drafted Le’Veon Bell to be the featured back. They also brought in La’Rod Stephens-Howling in free agency. It’s not as though the Steelers can expect Bell or Stephens-Howling to turn into 1,000-plus yard rushers, but it isn’t the worst tandem to base their plodding hopes on. The receivers Roethlisberger has to choose from aren’t the greatest, either, though. They drafted Markus Wheaton to shore up the lack of depth (3rd rd) and then also added Justin Brown (6th rd).

The Steelers commitment towards depth is what would have to trigger the word rebuild from any fan outside of the city of steel. The team will mainly use Antonio Brown and Plaxico Burress, but the choice to draft to wide receivers can’t be ignored and both will see steady time if the team struggles out of the gates.

With a pass offense ranked middle of the league (14th), a poor rush offense (21st), and a defense that is decent at best, the Steelers won’t stand much of a chance in the AFC North against the Bengals or the Ravens. There are a number of fans around the league who will say not to count out the Steelers as long as Big Ben is taking the snaps, but there’s an equally as big camp wondering if his glory days might definitely belong in the confines of a rear view mirror.

Be sure to check out Maddux’s picks for this NFL season, as we line our bettors pockets once again in big fashion.

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