The Cincinnati Bengals are the defending AFC North champions and with the addition or Terrell Owens, they seem to be the talk of the division. The Baltimore Ravens also signed a big name free agent with the aquisition of Anquan Boldin. The Steelers seem to be an afterthought in the AFC North this season. Pittsburgh is still a force to be reckoned with, and here are five Bold Predicitions why:
Bold Prediction #1 Rashard Mendenhall will gain 1,500 yards on the ground. With Roethlisberger suspended for the first four to six games of the season, the offense will turn to Mendenhall to keep the offense rolling. After last season, Dan Rooney said that he would like to see the Steelers renew their ground attack and circumstances are going to require them to comply with his wishes. This season the offense is going make a return to Steeler football, with Mendenhall reaping the benefits.
Bold Prediction #2 LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison will be the most effective sack tandem in the NFL. Woodley and Harrison are masters in the art of sacking the quarterback. This year they will benefit from an improved secondary. Troy Polamalu is healthy and Bryant McFadden is back from the Arizona Cardinals. With the better coverage provided by the defensive backs, Harrison and Woodley will have more time to get to the quarterback. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are ready to party like it’s 2008-2009.
Bold Prediction #3 Speaking of Troy Polamalu, he will lead the league in interceptions. Troy did not play a lot last season because of a knee injury, but when he did play, he was all over the field picking of three passes in five starts. Troy Polamalu is healthy and at the peak of his career. He is going to finish what he started last season.
Bold Prediction #4 Mike Wallace is going to have 1,000 yards receiving. Last season, Wallace led the league in yards per reception. Now that Santonio Holmes has been traded to the Jets, Mike is going to need to run more than just the deep routes. This will hurt his yards per reception, but the increased targets will also mean an increase over the nearly 750 receiving yards he had last season.
Bold Prediction #5 Joshua Cribbs, or any other return specialist, will not take a kick to the house against the Steelers this season. Bob Ligashesky was fired after the abysmal season the Steelers experienced last season in the kick coverage department. The Steelers added players like Arnaz Battle and Will Allen that are expected to improve special teams play. New special teams coordinator, Al Everest, is going to get the job done.