5 Reasons Why Pittsburgh Steelers Will Return to Playoffs in 2013

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5 Reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers Will Return to the Playoffs in 2013

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoffs seem to be an annual occurrence in Pittsburgh, Pa. Images of a snowy Heinz Field in January come to mind when thinking about Pittsburgh Steelers football. However, 2012 was a lost year in Steelers nation. From the Mike Wallace hold out to the injury of Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh team that was primed to make a run lost to teams they would have normally beaten with ease.

With the preseason drawing closer and closer, the Steelers will look to make great strides in training camp. After a mostly quiet offseason and another spectacular draft, the focus now shifts to getting better each day and getting back to “Steelers football.” It is rare to find Pittsburgh out of the playoffs for two years in a row, and fans everywhere don’t expect that trend to change anytime soon.

While you will still find a weakness in the 2013 Steelers team (special teams coverage, defensive backs getting burned on the deep ball) Pittsburgh is ready to take the field and make a run at Super Bowl win No. 7. Not having won a postseason game since 2010, owner Dan Rooney is ready for that to change, along with all others involved in the organization.

2013 looks very promising for Pittsburgh, a team viewed by many that appears on the downslope of things while division rivals Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns look as if they are on their way to brighter days. While critics and skeptics argue the glory days of the Steelers are over, look for Pittsburgh to surprise many and battle their way into the postseason. Here are five reasons why to expect the Pittsburgh Steelers to return to the postseason:

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Experienced Defense

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Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Like it or not, the defense is gaining in age. Not just the players, but coaches as well. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is also up there in age, turning 76 this September. However, with age comes experience, and experience is a fantastic key to have these days in the NFL. Players such as Troy Polamalu and Brett Keisel know what it takes to win a championship.

Players like these also know the feeling of losing big games, and in 2013, look for the wisdom and knowledge to trickle down to young talent such as Jarvis Jones and Shamarko Thomas. Old? Sure. Done? Not so fast, they’re still the same dominating force they've always been, and this season should be no change.

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A Healthy Offensive Line

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Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

In 2012, it seemed as if the offensive line was a deck of cards, always being shuffled around and you never had the same hand twice when playing. Injuries plagued the Steelers all year, resulting in inconsistent performance by the line and, therefore, the offense was out of rhythm. Everything starts with the big men up front, and it’s hard to win football games if they’re not healthy around the clock.

In 2013, the line looks to stay healthy all the way through, anchored by Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. Both excellent players, it is important that these two stay healthy in order for success to be reached. This upcoming year looks bright for the heavyweights at the line of scrimmage.

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A Revamped Run Game

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After the retirement of Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh seemed to have deviated from being a smash mouth, pound the rock up the middle team. With the growth and resurgence of Ben Roethlisberger, the offensive shifted into a pass-friendly squad. With poor performance from the backfield in 2012, Pittsburgh found a potential back in Jonathan Dwyer during the middle part of the season. It was still vital that the Steelers grab a running back in this years draft, and Le’Veon Bell is the man they chose.

. Built like a prototypical Pittsburgh running back, Bell is a nasty running back when running between the tackles, something the Steelers have lost since the Bettis era. With the addition of Bell to the roster, look for the Steelers to have an efficient, reliable run game to balance the offense.

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Lack of Strength on Schedule

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

With a typically more than average strength of schedule, the Steelers seem to have been given some slack with this years schedule. Only facing five teams that made the playoffs from 2012, not much worry should run through minds of fans in 2013. Pittsburgh could easily go 10-6 if not better with how the schedule is lined up. Pittsburgh will have chances to avenge losses from last year to teams such as the Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders.

The premier teams besides division rivals the Steelers have to face include the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. If Pittsburgh can remain healthy, chances are they are able to walk out of their regular season schedule with a winning record, ready for the playoffs.

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Tomlin Knows Best

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Vincent Pugliese-USA TODAY Sports

With the retirement of coach Bill Cowher in 2006, Pittsburgh needed a man to step into his place. With most speculating the hiring of then offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, the front office decided to hire Mike Tomlin instead. Tomlin immediately established his identity as a head coach in the NFL, making playoff appearances in his first two seasons, winning a Super Bowl in 2008. During Tomlin’s tenure, the team has only missed the playoffs twice.

Put simply, the man knows how to win. Tomlin is sour from the past year and is ready to take a step forward into 2013. With an excellent 2013 draft class and a combination of experience and brute, coach Tomlin will rightfully adjust past mistakes and capitalize on opportunities when presented. The Pittsburgh Steelers will make strides this year, and look for Tomlin to lead the way.


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