Ben Roethlisberger was so upset with the way last season ended that he actually contemplated retirement.
You don’t think of Big Ben as old, but he’s a healthy 35 years of age, and he’s endured the heaviest beating of any quarterback this decade. It’s a stark reminder that the window of opportunity could be closing on the Pittsburgh Steelers in a hurry.
Last season was a pretty typical one for the Steelers. They went 11-5 and won the AFC North by a comfortable three games. They advanced through the first two rounds of the playoffs, but when push came to shove, they just didn’t have enough horses to compete with the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.
Roethlisberger has never had a losing season in his Hall of Fame career. But all good things come to an end, and Father Time remains undefeated. Is this the year Big Ben and the behemoth Steelers are knocked back to earth?
Why the Steelers Will Overachieve in 2017
Sure, Big Ben is starting to age, but he’s getting back Martavis Bryant from his yearlong suspension, and he has a new toy on the offense to work with in JuJu Schuster-Smith. Antonio Brown’s numbers dip just a bit, but that’s not a concern for one of the most stacked offenses in the NFL.
The key to the season though, is Le’Veon Bell. Mike Tomlin is smart enough to know that Bell is playing on a franchise tag and is set to sign a massive contract in the offseason, and he’s got no problem running him into the ground. Bell ends up with more than 1,500 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards, and he threatens the single-season all-purpose yardage record.
The Pittsburgh offense amasses over 500 points and 7,000 yards for the season, and while the defense struggles at times, it’s still good enough to win 12 games.
Why the Steelers Will Underachieve in 2017
Roethlisberger goes down in Week 1 of the season against Cleveland, and the Steelers inexplicably lose to the Browns for just the fifth time in the last 15 years. Tomlin goes sleepless night after night, mulling over the mistake of not ever truly investing in a veteran backup quarterback. Landry Jones proves to be the disaster we all know he is despite being in the Pittsburgh system for quite some time.
Bell, upset with his franchise tag, loses red zone touches to rookie James Conner, and with the team sitting at just 4-4 through eight games, he lashes out in the media and demands more of the ball. This doesn’t sit well in the locker room or with team brass, and the Steel Curtain starts to unravel.
In the second half of the season, the Steelers run more nightmares. They lose six out of seven, with the defense failing to close out games time and time again. An injury-riddled season ends with them being tabbed as the biggest busts in the NFL with just six victories and 10 losses.
2017 Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule
Week 1: at Browns
Week 2: vs. Vikings
Week 3: at Bears
Week 4: at Ravens
Week 5: vs. Jaguars
Week 6: at Chiefs
Week 7: vs. Bengals
Week 8: at Lions
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: at Colts
Week 11: vs. Titans
Week 12: vs. Packers
Week 13: at Bengals
Week 14: vs. Ravens
Week 15: vs. Patriots
Week 16: at Texans
Week 17: vs. Browns
Steelers Pick ‘Em Contest Best Bet: Week 3 at Bears
The Steelers flat out don’t lose to young quarterbacks. Even if Mitch Trubisky isn’t under center yet for the Bears, we can’t imagine Mike Glennon winning this game. The biggest problem Chicago will have here is that the quarterback play is going to be subpar, especially with a miserable set of wide receivers. Even though this could easily end up being one of these ugly 16-10 games, the Steelers could also come out and put up a 40-burger on the Bears. This is certainly the best the bet you could make this season on Pittsburgh in our NFL Pick ‘Em Contest.
Steelers Pick ‘Em Contest Top Fade: Week 16 at Texans
The time to fade the Texans is going to be early in the season. Once the inevitable happens and Deshaun Watson takes over under center, he and the team should really start to make some strides. By the time Christmas Day rolls around, Watson should be set to deliver the gift of an AFC South title to Texans fans so this could be the biggest game of their season. To Pittsburgh, it’s the game after the game against New England, and there’s just this inevitable letdown set to happen.