If the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to get back to the Super Bowl, and let’s face it, anything short of that will be considered a failure, there are several Steelers who will have to perform at peak level. Of course, for the most part they’re a group of the usual suspects, but there are a few newcomers who could really help Pittsburgh get back to the Big Game.
QB Ben Roethlisberger
Did anybody think we’d put anybody else at the top of this list? It’s a no-brainer. Yeah, the Steelers won a couple of games a couple seasons ago when Ben served a suspension, but what do you think their record would have been if he’d missed the entire season? As Big Ben goes, so will go the Pittsburgh offense. His ability to shed potential tacklers, evade the rush and make plays downfield is almost unsurpassed in the league right now. But Ben’s mileage is adding up, and now we get news that he’s dealing with a partially-torn rotator cuff. He’s laughing it off, but if that doesn’t send a chill down the collective spine of Steeler Nation, nothing will.
WR Mike Wallace
Pittsburgh doesn’t usually have to deal with hold-outs, but it’s got one on its hands this camp with Wallace sitting out. With Wallace, the Steelers have that serious deep threat amenable to Roethlisberger’s scramble-and-throw ways; Without Wallace, they’ve got problem, and should probably be searching the WR market for some help, because the two sides seem a long ways apart.
S Troy Polamalu
Like Roethlisberger and the offense, the Steelers defense depends a whole lot on Polamalu, his health and his ability to make big plays. The now 32-year-old Polamalu managed to play every game last year, and the Pittsburgh defense ranked No. 1 again. But also like Roethlisberger his mileage is adding up, and his history of concussions worries us.
After ranking 14th in the league in rushing last year and allowing 42 sacks the Steelers went offensive line with their first two picks in the draft, grabbing Stanford G David DeCastro and Ohio State T Mike Adams. Both might jump right in and start. Then in the fifth-round they chose Florida RB Chris Rainey, who could make in impact with starter Rashard Mendenhall on the mend from that torn ACL he suffered in last year’s regular-season finale. And with Wallace holding out seventh-round pick Toney Clemons out of Colorado might be depended upon for some production at wide receiver.
Pittsburgh: The Odds
According to some NFL odds, bookmakers don’t seem too afraid of what could happen with Roethlisberger, Polamalu and Wallace. As of this week Bookmaker is listing the team that’s basically the same that got within one score of winning the Super Bowl two years ago as a -105 favorite to win the AFC North this season, +500 to win the AFC and +900 to win the Super Bowl, with a regular-season wins ‘over/under’ of 10.