Five Reasons Why Pittsburgh Steelers Will Make 2013 NFL Playoffs
5 Reasons Why Pittsburgh Steelers Will Make 2013 Playoffs
It has almost become expected to see the Pittsburgh Steelers in the postseason every year. This is a franchise that has the most Super Bowl victories in league history, and they have always been contenders within their division. That’s why it was surprising to see an NFL postseason without the Steelers in 2012.
Pittsburgh stayed in the hunt for the final AFC playoff spot last season despite suffering a rash of injuries only to finish with a disappointing 8-8 record. This offseason, the Steelers lost key veteran players, faced the difficult task of revamping their roster with very little salary cap space, and yet still found a way to sign a couple of much-needed veterans.
To top it all off, Pittsburgh did an excellent job in selecting nine rookies in this year’s draft, a few of which could possibly have an immediate impact on the team.
After looking at how the organization has gone about regrouping for the upcoming season, I believe that the Steelers are primed to make a run at the playoffs and possibly at the AFC North title. This team has gotten much younger, but at the same time still has a vast amount of valuable experience on the roster.
Even in arguably the toughest division in the league, I feel that the Steelers are in a good position to become the dominant team that they have always had the reputation of being. There are numerous reasons why one would believe that Pittsburgh would make the postseason in 2013. However, I have narrowed it down to five distinct reasons, and here they are.
Last year’s running game was beyond atrocious. This offseason, the Steelers drafted running back Le’Veon Bell and signed free-agent running back LaRod Stephens-Howling. Both Bell and Stephens-Howling are backs that complement each other, and they are a big improvement on the one-dimensional running style of running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer.
Reliable Backup Quarterback
I do believe that Ben Roethlisberger is one of the elite quarterbacks in the game today, and he will once again lead this team like he always does. However, Roethlisberger’s style of play always results in him being sidelined with injuries.
Signing quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was a very smart move on Pittsburgh’s part. Gradkowski not only is a reliable backup quarterback, but he is very familiar with the AFC North having played with the Cincinnati Bengals. Furthermore, Gradkowski is an upgrade from the Steelers’ senior-citizen backups from last season.
The presence of rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones should definitely help a Steelers defense that has seen its sack numbers decline over the past two years. Not only will Jones help improve their pass rush, but he will also help increase the defense’s number of turnovers with his ball-stripping ability.
Better Receiving Corps
Even with the departure of wide receiver Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh’s receiving corps is still intact. They still have Antonio Brown as their number one receiver, and they held on to Emmanuel Sanders this offseason. In addition, drafting Markus Wheaton could turn out to be one of the smartest decisions this franchise has made in its recent history. Wheaton may not be as fast as Wallace, but he just might be the best all-around receiver the team has.
Since arriving in the Steel City in 2007, head coach Mike Tomlin has led the Steelers to the playoffs four times, including to two Super Bowls. Only in 2009 and 2012 did Pittsburgh not make the postseason while he was at the helm. It will be hard to believe that Tomlin will allow such a disappointment to arise two years in a row.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google