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I feel like I am overlooking the Steelers somewhat with my assessment of Cleveland and Baltimore. But, downgrading this franchise is a risk for sure. Ben Roethlisberger will be 39 and the Steelers have five other starters over the age of 30 that are in the last year of their contracts. Could this be a last stand at the OK Corral for this core group?
Roethlisberger returns from a typical season for him. He threw for 3803 yards with 33 touchdown passes. He was at his best in the first half of the season but tailed off in the last six games and threw four interceptions in the upset loss to the Browns in the playoffs. The Steelers drafted Najee Harris in the first round of the draft to bolster a running attack that was not up to their standards. The receivers are led by JuJu Smith-Schuster (97 catches for nine TDs) and Diontae Johnson who added 88 catches. This group is reliable but there are no playmakers in the bunch. The offensive line is somewhat of a question mark and is being rebuilt. Time will tell how they will be.
The defensive line was one of the best in the league in 2020 and all three starters are back. All-Pro Cam Hayward has 33 sacks the last four years and he will be joined by Stephen Tuitt and Tyson Alualu. The linebackers will continue to be a strength with T.J. Watt leading the way and Alex Highsmith who started the last five games in his rookie season. There are some holes to be filled in before the secondary is ready to play. This could be a major problem for the defense.
Must Wins: Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, at Cincinnati, Cleveland
Toss-Up Games: Seattle, at Cleveland, at LA Chargers, Baltimore, Tennessee
Probable Losses: at Buffalo, at Green Bay, at Minnesota, at Kansas City, at Baltimore
Summary in Two Sentences: The Steelers won their first eleven games in 2020 but lost five out of their last six. Was that just a coincidence or are they beginning a fall because of age and other circumstances?
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