This is officially the beginning of the end for Lawrence Timmons career in the black and gold.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the toughest NFL teams to figure out ahead of the 2016 season—in a good, potentially great, way.
Just after the 2015 campaign ended, had you asked if the Steelers would improve upon their 10-win performance and wild card berth the following year, the answer would have been a resounding yes. They would have Martavis Bryant, Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell for an entire season. Ben Roethlisberger remains one of the most underrated great quarterbacks of all time. How could they not emerge as a dynamo on the back of perhaps the scariest offense in the NFL?
Well, a spanner or two (or three) has been thrown into those plans. Stud wide receiver Bryant is suspended for the entirety of the 2016 crusade after violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Bell, the Steelers’ star running back, is also facing a four-game suspension for skipping a drug test. Multiple reports have the Steelers confident that the suspension levied will be overturned, and that Bell will, in fact, be available for their Week 1 sparring.
Still, these types of hiccups are troubling. You want your best players on the field every week, and the Steelers won’t have that luxury with Bryant watching from home all year. And there’s a chance they’ll be debilitated even further for the first 25 percent of the season with regards to Bell. Those losses would cripple most teams.
But the Steelers aren’t most teams. Not by a long shot. Bell’s backup, Deangelo Williams, shined as the No. 1 running man through the first few weeks of last season. Brown, meanwhile, is the best wideout in football. Having Bryant on the field, as one of the most lethal deep-ball threats in the game, makes his job easier; not having him on the field, though, doesn’t make Brown’s job impossible.
Brown caught more than 70 percent of his passes while racking in 136 total receptions and more than 1,830 yards. The last player to reel in at least 69 percent of his passes while clearing the 1,800-yard plateau? That would be Jerry Rice, during the 1995 season, as a member of the San Francisco 49ers, according to pro-football-reference. That’s some serious company, and it suggests that Brown can carry an entire receiving corps on his own.
He has a better chance than most one-man shows anyway. The Steelers’ running game, whether they are using Bell or Williams, will open up plenty of opportunities in the air, while Big Ben has the ridiculously strong arm necessary to capitalize on Brown’s speed against double coverage. Wide Receiver Sammie Coates has also stepped up in training camp and could be speeding toward a subtly spectacular season. Any production of Bryant’s that he can make up will make life exponentially easier on Brown and the rest of the Steelers’ offense.
The defense, of course, will need to tighten up as well. It was hot and cold last season, and appeared to cool off as the year progressed. The Steelers, nevertheless, ranked 11th in points allowed per game.
If they can stay right around that area, they’ll be just fine.
Pittsburgh’s passing prevention will most likely need to improve for that to happen. While the Steelers ranked among the top six defenses in total interceptions, they finished 30th in passing yards allowed and 19th in passing touchdowns relinquished.
Their secondary would often get burned taking too many gambles, so they’ll have to see if rookie cornerbacks Artie Burns out of Miami (first round) and Sean Davis out of Maryland (second round) can make an immediate impact. Anytime defenses are even slightly dependent on newbies in the secondary, the potential for some sort of regression exists.
And yet, there’s a reason why Bovada gives the Steelers top-five Super Bowl odds (+1200), in addition to the second-best AFC Title chances (+550), behind only the New England Patriots (+275). Even a slightly below-average defense puts you in a great position if you’re carried by a dominant offense. And we know the Steelers will have that, even without Bryant and, potentially, Bell.
Besides, regardless of what Pittsburgh’s secondary looks like, it will be buoyed by a stingy run defense. The Steelers ranked in the top five of both rushing yards allowed per game and touchdowns let up on the ground last season, and they didn’t lose any personnel that would suggest they’re do for a decline.
It helps, too, that the AFC isn’t exactly overrunning with powerhouses. You have the Patriots, yes. But the No. 2 slot in the conference is far from determined. Any one of the Cincinnati Bengals (+800), Denver Broncos (+900), Indianapolis Colts (+1100) or Kansas City Chiefs (+1100) could end up being Super Bowl contenders or pretenders. The Steelers, on paper, are easily the best team of that bunch. They have the best quarterback, in Roethlisberger, and it isn’t even kind of close, and their backfield combination of Bell and Williams leads the pack by a similar margin.
In any other season, given the absence of Bryant and the uncertainty of Pittsburgh’s passing defense, it might be tough to envision the Steelers as Super Bowl contenders. They would be playoff-bound, sure. But there would, presumably, be another team or two to slot ahead of them. That’s just not the case this year. The Steelers are a good-to-great football squad that will be propped up even further by the AFC’s shallow juggernaut pool—and there is, by no means, any shame in that.
We like the Steelers to advance to the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, where they’ll likely fall just shy of their ultimate Super Bowl aspirations. Then again, if a few things go their way, we could see the Steelers play Green Bay in an all-anticipated Super Bowl Final
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a big decision to make on whether to sign all-pro running back Le’veon Bell to a long term contract before the start of the 2016-2017 NFL season. Bell is entering the final year of his contract which historically is the time the front office will resign players. The Steelers training camp is less than 2 weeks away and the organization does not negotiate new contracts during the season to avoid any distractions. So, the time is ticking.
The Steelers have 3 options:
- Get the deal done now. Sign Bell to a 4 year deal (at the most) averaging 10-12 million a year. Preferably, I would only sign him to a 3 year deal but I don’t think Bell and his agent would go for that. 15 million/year as implied in his recent rap song is not going to happen and Bell as admitted as much.
- Franchise him next year. The Steelers could franchise him for approximately 15 mil next year if they can’t get a deal done this year or if they want to take a “wait and see” approach. The wait and see approach does make sense given Bell’s injury history
- Let him walk after this year. This might happen especially if the organization has durability concerns which is valid. He hasn’t played an entire season and has already had 2 straight knee injuries requiring surgery.
There is little doubt that Le’veon Bell is the most dynamic RB in the league. You can’t replace a player like that. The NFL odds makers have the Steelers and New England Patriots as the favorites to win the Super Bowl. Those odds are with a healthy Le’veon Bell. The Steelers are a different team with him on the field especially given his receiving threat.
After several months of waiting, the NFL is finally back for the 2015 season. Kicking off on Thursday the 10th of September, where the Pittsburgh Steelers took on the defending champions, in the New England Patriots in what was a tense and explosive match. As players will know, this time the Patriots arose victorious from this epic kick off match which finished with a final score of Patriots 28-21 Steelers. Obviously this was not the ideal result for the Steelers. But this doesn’t need to paint their performance for the entire season. Therefore, we would like to investigate; what are the Steelers’ odds for the rest of the season?
First of all, let’s look at what the experts think. When looking at predictions for favourites to win this season of the Super Bowl, the Steelers do not appear once. Instead, bookmakers predict a win for the Seattle Seahawks, the Indianapolis Colts, the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots. However, the Steelers odds are not abysmal, with their win total line sitting at 8.5. Considering that this is the same as their win total line last year, which they surpassed at 11-5, then there is a good chance that they can do well. The main problem facing the Steelers is that, compared to last season, they have far weaker ratings in their linebacker and their defensive line as well as in the secondary.
In addition, some of their best players will be out of the competition for several games – Pouncey, playing center, looks likely to miss around 10 weeks, whilst RB Bell will not be available for the first two games and WR Bryant has been suspended for four games. These misfortunes have meant that despite the Steelers’ talent, they are arguably playing one of their toughest seasons – and certainly, of all the teams playing in this NFL, they probably have the most challenges to overcome. Therefore, whilst fans might sleep better knowing that any losses are not actually a reflection on the Steelers’ talents as a team, sports betting fans might not want to blow all of their cash on predicting them for a win.
Another good indicator to check out is the performance of the team during previous games. As we know, the Steelers lost their first game to the Patriots, but what about the preseason games taking place in previous months. It’s probably important to note that the Steelers lost 4 out of 5 of their last games. This included a devastating 6-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers on September the 3rd. Of course, this loss was something of an anomaly for the Steelers, whose average score overall ranks at 21, so hopefully they will have sorted out some of the issues which took place during that game. It is, however, still something to bear in mind during your bet. What’s more, in the last 5 games the total has gone under in 4 of them, so this will also affect the match and the league outcome.
Certainly the Steelers are facing a lot of adversity. However, it’s not all bad news for fans. Of the eight super bowls which the team has participated in, the Steelers have won six. The most recent of these was in 2009, where they beat the Arizona Cardinals by 27 points to 23. These are some very good results and indicates that the Steelers could well have the talent and determination to pull through.
Overall, it is very difficult to tell at this point who will win the current football season, and this article can only really be a rough guide. If you fancy making a bet on this season, so can do so at a bookmakers or on an online sports betting site. These sites often offer other kinds of gambling as well – for example, you can find new casinos online out there. Most of all, make sure you enjoy the new season and have plenty of fun.