by Bovada Sports on
The Pittsburgh Steelers are older and wiser. Sometimes that’s not only a good thing.
They head into 2012 season knowing that they still have plenty of talent but that age is catching up with them. A proud team with an impressive body of accomplishments will try to stay ahead of the curve for another year in the NFL, enough to make another run at the Super Bowl.
2011 Record: 12-4
2011 ATS Record: 7-9
2011 O/U: 6-10
Key Additions: Leonard Pope (Chiefs), David DeCastro (Draft), Sean Spence (Draft)
Key Losses: Chris Kemoeatu (free agency), James Farrior (Retirement), Mewelde Moore (Colts)
The overwhelming point of concern for the Steelers is the health of their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. The man who helped Pittsburgh to two of its six Super Bowl titles absorbed a pounding last season, taking away from the mobility that gives him his improvisational skills. Roethlisberger has always been at his best when he can dance outside the pocket and find a receiver who manages to break open. With his mobility limited last year, he couldn’t offer his full package of skills.
That's mostly why the Steelers, despite another double-digit win total in the regular season, fell to the 8-8 Denver Broncos in the first round of the playoffs. Protecting Big Ben has to be the core of Pittsburgh's plan on offense, which is why their focus in the NFL Draft was on the offensive line.
The good news is that there are plenty of young parts – particularly at wide receiver – to help out Big Ben should the offensive line be better. The Steelers will always be able to run the ball and with all of the skill positions filled, the team simply needs good play from the offensive line to be successful.
The Steelers have the great benefit of being led by the best defensive coordinator in the league. There's simply nobody who is better than Dick LeBeau, who has served as the Steelers' defensive play caller since 2004. None of the league's other 31 coordinators was hired before 2008.
The concern about the defense is that – like their coordinator – they are long in the tooth. Even after the release of veterans Aaron Smith, James Farrior and Bryant McFadden, seven of the 11 starters project to be in their 30’s.
Keep an eye on safety Troy Polamalu, who is still one of the best players in the game, but tailed off last season after enduring a serious concussion.
They’ll be successful in 2012 if…
The Steelers' offensive line comes up with a big year. If Pittsburgh can win the line of scrimmage, Roethlisberger will be protected and everything will fall into place for this team. On defense, they’ll have to show that age isn’t a factor and that their experience is.
They’ll continue to show signs of struggling in 2012 if…
The defense is over the hill and continues to perform poorly. If the offensive line isn’t improved and Roethlisberger takes another season full of beatings, then the Steelers won’t be a Super Bowl contender.
Regular Season Win Total: 10
Odds to Win 2013 Super Bowl XLVII: 16/1