The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a disappointing 2012 season. It marked the first time since 2009 that the team missed the playoffs, and their eight-win total was the worst since Bill Cowher‘s final season in 2006 (also 8-8 ). This is not the same Steelers team that made it to the Super Bowl just two and a half years ago, things have changed.
For the first time in a long time, no one is talking about Pittsburgh winning the AFC North crown. For years the division has gone back and forth between the Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, but now it looks like the Cincinnati Bengals have emerged as legitimate contenders as well. Because of the how the Bengals look heading into this season, they’ve become the trendy pick. It’s hard to really knock the Bengals, because they have one of the league’s most underrated defenses, combined with one of the brightest young offenses.
Baltimore on the other hand, is trying to put itself back together after some major personnel changes this offseason. The Ravens don’t project to be any better than last year, but you never know if the new blood will pay off. They won’t be as bad as some people think, but they won’t be the same Ravens, either.
The Steelers are going to find themselves behind the Bengals and Ravens in most preseason rankings, simply because they don’t have any buzz surrounding them. This offseason was more about subtractions, rather than additions in Pittsburgh. Still, the heart and soul of the team is still intact.
As long as Mike Tomlin and Dick Lebeau are on the sidelines, and Ben Roethlisberger is behind center, the Steelers are going to be competitive. There’s just too good of a system in place in Pittsburgh, and too many solid players still on the roster. This team isn’t going to get any preseason love, but we’re talking about the Steelers. They’re still going to be tough to beat every Sunday, and they’ll probably end up using the lack of love as motivation.
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