Big Ben averaged 322 passing yards for the Steelers in 2015, cracking the 300-yard barrier in nine of 14 starts
By Pick Sixty Sports
The Pittsburgh Steelers outscored opponents 27-20 last year with Ben Roethlisberger in the lineup and the focus this off-season once again went towards stacking the Steel Curtain. It’s a long year ahead but by all accounts, this team is a true Super Bowl contender.
LAST YEAR’S RECORD & 2016 NFL FUTURES
Win-Loss: 10-6 SU and 8-6-2 ATS
Over/Under: 6-10 O/U
Noteworthy: The Steelers were one of eight teams last season to win at least three games where they trailed at the half. It was only the second time since 1997 that Pittsburgh mounted more than two second-half comebacks (2008).
HC Mike Tomlin has a 98-57 SU record since taking over the Steelers in 2007, including six trips to the playoffs where he’s 6-5 SU and 5-5-1 ATS. Their past five playoff games, Pittsburgh is just 1-4 SU/ATS and the problems were either on defense (allowed 30-plus points three times) or injury related. It’s never a guarantee that a starting QB or star running back like Le’Veon Bell will be in prime shape come January, but with this veteran O-Line there is little reason to suspect the Steelers can’t rank among the top five teams in scoring.
TE Ladarius Green was signed to replace Heath Evans (retired) and although the offense takes a hit with Martavis Bryant’s one-year suspension, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Sammie Coates are a good backup plan.
Second-year D-Co Keith Butler will look to build on his rookie success, taking a unit that totalled 33 and 34 sacks the previous two seasons to finish third overall with 48 sacks in 2015 (Broncos, Pats). The front seven is in good shape but they’ll need to keep up that pressure to help a young secondary adjust to life in the pros. Pittsburgh spent its top two picks on DBs and was hoping to get CB Senquez Golson back, but Golson injured his foot August 1 and could be out 10-12 weeks. Ross Cockrell, Artie Burns and Sean Davis are three names to watch. If they play well, this D should once again rank top 10.
STEELERS BOTTOM LINE: TURKEY DAY TRIMMINGS
In Week 12, Pittsburgh plays at Indianapolis for the Thanksgiving Day nightcap. Early odds favor the Steelers by -1.5 and barring injury, this line should remain within a couple points of ‘Pick’. The Steelers have not played spectacular football in a dome the past 10 years, but they did record SU/ATS wins in 2014 at Atlanta and 2015 in St. Louis. Big Ben knows how to handle crowd noise, the O-Line is sturdy and if RB Bell can play a part in the rushing/passing game this is a prime spot for the Steelers at a nice price.
Pittsburgh has lost five-straight Thursday road games but three were divisional and one was vs. the Patriots (Week 1, 2015). With the Giants on-deck (non-conference), look for a playoff caliber performance out of the Steelers on both sides of the ball.