Even though it’s been five years since the Pittsburgh Steelers won a playoff game, their quiet, not dramatic way of retooling and building around Ben Roethlisberger should result in them making a serious challenge for the Super Bowl in 2015.
It might be hypothetical, but the Steelers were a Le’Veon Bell injury away from making some noise in the postseason, instead losing unremarkably to the Baltimore Ravens. Injuries can always turn the best of teams into sad imitations, as long as they hit the right/wrong players.
But with everyone healthy heading into the new season, the defense successfully going through the massive change and turnover from the olden and golden days while the offense is supposed to be even better, including the protection around Roethlisberger, they at least should be considered the best team in the AFC North.
The Bengals got a little bit weaker and still have Andy Dalton for quarterback. The Baltimore Ravens don’t look good yet are still a dangerous, maybe even similar team. But the Steelers match up well with them, and if the only difference is a healthy or not star running back, the Steelers are the team you should be backing to win this usually very tight matchup over the course of a season.
The Steelers made the Super Bowl three times from 2005 to 2010, winning two of those games before losing to the Green Bay Packers in 2010. The AFC has competition. Their own division remains very difficult, while the Patriots, Broncos and maybe even Indianapolis Colts have one more title run in them. The Steelers aren’t alone in the AFC, but are the best they’ve been for the last five seasons, and deserve to be taken a bit more seriously.