By: Max Carroll
2018 Record: 9-6-1, 2nd in AFC North
2018 Success: Top Offense and Defense
2018 Failure: Run Game Woes
Offensive MVP: JuJu Smith-Shuster
Defensive MVP: TJ Watt
O/U Wins: 9 (Over -125/Under +105)
Record Prediction: 7-9
The question for the Steelers is an obvious one to me… how will they replace the production of Antonio Brown? Big Ben is only getting older and now he’s lost one of the most dynamic weapons in the game.
The Steelers are coming off a year that can only be described as “weird”. They had a top 10 offense and defense in terms of YPG and excelled at keeping Big Ben clean in the pocket. Despite having one of the better protecting units in the NFL (allowing the 4th lowest sack total), he still threw 17 INTs. He was able to take some shots to Smith-Shuster and Brown, but now half of the equation is gone. As of now, Donte Moncrief is listed as the number two wide receiver for this offense, and that’s less than comforting. Combine the loss of Brown with the fact that their run game was 31st in the league and the Steelers are going to have trouble moving the ball.
I’d like to say the defense could be the saving grace of this team, but I don’t believe that to be the case this year. They’ve got almost all their starters returning, and as mentioned earlier this was a stout unit in terms of yards allowed, but that didn’t translate to scoring defense. They still allowed over 22 point per game. They were tied for the league lead with 52 sacks, but the lack of turnovers forced hurt them (only 15 forced in 2018). They have the makings of a solid defense, something that’s been expected in the Steel City, but they are going to have to get turnovers and give the offense more opportunities to put up points.
I see a regression from Big Ben who won’t have the same comfort level going into the year. The lack of running game won’t help him either. The AFC North is more talented this year and I don’t believe this team has the pieces to get to the playoffs. I see 7 wins on their schedule. Under for the Steelers in 2019.