The Pittsburgh Steelers gear up for another season, but are they poised to make a run for the title this season? Lets check out the NFL odds and break down this team, as we decide if fans will be waving their “Terrible Towels” in February.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had to make the difficult decision of releasing all-time great Hines Ward. Instead of opting to go to another team, Ward retired as a Steeler for life. That’s what this franchise is about, as talent and dedication are the two ingredients that make the Steelers a perennial winner.
In the Roethlisberger era, the Steelers have won 2 Super Bowls and will be looking to make it a trifecta. This team is based on the talent of Ben Roethlisberger, reliable running, young talented receivers, and one of the best defenses in the NFL. Let’s take a closer look at this team and decide if they have what it takes to contend this year.
Blood, sweat, and tears
There is no doubt that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one of the toughest players in the NFL. I’ve seen this guy get battered and cracked, yet he always returns to the field. Roethlisberger hasn’t always used the best judgment as a motorcycle accident without a helmet and his off the field behavior have proved to us, but the Steelers reprimanded him for it and he seem’s to have learned his lesson. This is a two time Super Bowl champ that with the proper defense, can win a Super Bowl in any given year.
Big Ben is a mountain of a man, at 6 foot 6, that possesses a rifle of an arm and the ability to adjust to a play to make it work. On the season, Roethlisberger threw for 4077 yards with 21 TD and 14 INT. He’s not a number’s guy, he’s a winning player, as the Steelers 12-4 record of 2011 will tell you.
Pittsburgh will have extra motivation this season as they lost in the post-season to a Denver Broncos team quarterbacked by Tim Tebow that backed into the playoffs. Now, the Steelers have something bigger to worry about as Peyton Manning has decided to become a member of the Denver Broncos.
Without Hines Ward, Roethlisberger will have to rely on his guttiness and the gifted ability of his young receivers.
When you watch Rashard Mendenhall, you think of a bruising type of running back that uses bruit strength to gain every yard while occasionally breaking off for a big run. Last season wasn’t one of Mendenhall’s best, but he still managed to rush for 928 yards and 9 TD’s. If he can regain his old form, this team will be dangerous.
Mendenhall is backed up by Isaac Redman, who is a very capable runner as well. This duo help to solidify the Steelers as a true running threat in the NFL.
I know that Pittsburgh has two 1000 yard receivers in Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, but Mike Wallace is a true superstar and go to guy when the big play is needed. Both players put up similar numbers, as Wallace caught for 1193 yards and 8 TD while Antonio Brown had 1108 yards and 2 TD. Expect this duo to have even bigger seasons without future hall of famer Hines Ward on the field.
The Steelers also have one of the best year in, year out tight ends in Heath Miller. Miller is definitely one of the top 5 tight ends in the game, all based off of his consistency and his ability to make a big catch on crucial 3rd down plays.
To sum is up, this is a deep offensive team, not even counting the draft moves that the Steelers will make and they’ll remain as one of the top teams of the league.
NFL’s best defense
Although the Baltimore Ravens would like to believe that they have the best defense in the league, many feel that the title belongs to Pittsburgh.
This is a team that ranked number 1 in points allowed, allowing a mere 14.2 points per game. The Steelers were also stingy against the pass, ranking number 1, allowing just 171.9 yards passing per game and they ranked 8th in rushing yards allowing 99.8 yards per game. Overall, they ranked first in total yards allowed at 271.8 yards per game and this was without top tackler linebacker James Harrison for most of the season.
Defense play’s such a pivotal role in the NFL, and teams like New Orleans, Green Bay, and New England get all of the accolades of being the top teams in the league while ranking near the bottom in passing defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the most balanced team in football.
The defensive line features a lot of beef in the form of Ziggy Hood, Caey Hampton, and Brett Keisel. Keisel was a 7th round draft pick at one time, which is proof that a team can find gems in the late rounds. Just ask New England in the form of Tom Brady.
Outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley were rocked by injuries but still each managed to accrue 9 sacks or more each in a limited amount of games. Right inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons had a decrease in production from 135 tackles in 2010 to 93 tackles in 2011 but still remains a major threat to opposing teams.
A fan favorite
Everyone loves the man with the hair, safety Troy Polamalu and Polamalu never disapoints as he plays with wreckless abandon and is one of the best defensive players in the league. Polamalu comes up with the most pivotal pass breakups during crunchtime than mostly any other safety that you’ll see. He’s getting a bit older but if he can stay healthy, Pittsburgh’s defense will be tough to crack. Look out Peyton Manning!
I mentioned 1000 yard wide receiver Antonio Brown and how valuable he is to the Steelers offense. He’s also valuable to the special teams game as he’s the primary kickoff and punt return man. He’s not just average, he’s good. There’s not so many receivers or players in general that can wear so many hats.
Against all odds?
It’s still somewhat early in the year and some of the NFL betting odds aren’t out yet but we can speculate. Don’t forget, the NFL Draft is just a month away, therefore the season has actually begun in a sense.
Sportsbook odds makers only release future Super Bowl Champion odds, and if you don’t like the Green Bay Packers (13/2) or the New England Patriots (15/2), you’re going to get a good price as the next 3 teams are all 12/1!
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 18/1 to win the Super Bowl and the Baltimore Ravens are 15/1. This tells me that the odds for the division will have the Steelers and Ravens split as the favorites. I think that Pittsburgh is the better overall team.
If you want to have a little fun, the NFL odds have been released for the cover of Madden 2013. Cam Newton leads the way at 5/2, and for Pittsburgh, Troy Polamalu is the favorite at 80/1! This is actually a good thing for Pittsburgh as the “Madden Curse” is inflicted on whomever is on the cover.
The draft will only improve this team, and the loss of Hines Ward shouldn’t hurt them too much. Pittsburgh is a complete, well rounded team that will be looking to make up for a poor showing against Denver in the post season. I look for the Steelers to get out to a quick start and have a huge season. With the defense that this team has, they can beat any team. It’s all a matter of protecting the quarterback, and this O-Line might be something they look to build on in the NFL Draft.