With the 2011 NFL Season (HOPEFULLY) just around the corner, it is time to look into the 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Coming off a season where they surprised almost everyone, making it to Super Bowl XLV, especially since their franchise QB, Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 NFL Season.
The sky is the limit for the Pittsburgh Steelers, even though most people don't think they have a realistic shot at returning to the Super Bowl.
Here is my list of 5 bold predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Many haters of Steelers Nation are hoping and praying that once free agency starts, Ike Taylor will be quick to sign with any team other than the Steelers.
Though there is a chance that Taylor will leave the Black and Gold, odds are, he is going to return, not only because of his close relationship with the Rooney family, but because he has spent his entire career with the Steelers.
Taylor understands what he means to the Steelers, and even though his agent would kill him for saying as much, his heart is in Pittsburgh, where Taylor stated that it has been his home longer than any other place in his life.
With Taylor back, and the emergence of the young studs the Steelers have drafted over the last few years, the Steelers secondary could become one of the best in the NFL in 2011.
Any time someone starts talking about the Steelers offensive line, you hear things like,
- "worst offensive line in the NFL"
- "the Steelers would be a dynasty if they had an offensive line"
- "they will be the reason Ben Roethlisberger will be retired by the time he is 30."
Steelers Nation hears about this all the time. People think the Steelers offensive line is horrible, simply because of the pressure that Ben Roethlisberger is normally under.
People don't take into account that Rothlisberger holds the ball longer than any QB in the NFL.
Add to that, Maurkice Pouncey will be entering his second season, and hopefully will improve over his Pro Bowl rookie outing.
Max Starks and Willie Colon (restricted free agent, depending on rules of 2011) will both return from season ending injuries, which would instantly improve the offensive line.
Flozell Adams will be back to again defend the right side of the line.
And Colon will have competition with rookie second round draft pick Marcus Gilbert, who has played with Maurkice Pouncey at the University of Florida.
Add all of these pieces together, and the Steelers offensive line could lead the Black and Gold the Super Bowl XLVI.
In 2009, when the Steelers lost Aaron Smith for the season in Week 5, the Steelers defense suffered, and the Black and Gold were unable to make the playoffs after winning the Super Bowl in the previous season.
In 2010, when the Steelers lost Aaron Smith for the season in Week 6, the Steelers inserted Ziggy Hood, and earned their third trip to the Super Bowl in the last six seasons.
When the Steelers drafted Hood in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft, they hoped that he would one day be able to replace Smith.
That day came in 2010, and Hood is well on his way towards earning the starting DE job that has been held by Smith since 2000.
If Hood can be the full-time starter, and Smith be the back up, the Steelers defensive front will continue to be one of the best in the NFL.
An event that will make all of the Ben Roethlisberger haters in the NFL cringe, Ben Roethlisberger will win the 2011 NFL MVP.
As quickly as most haters will state that Ben Roethlisberger does not put up the types of numbers to win the MVP, 2011 will be a completely different outcome for Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
With the improved offensive line play, an improved rushing game, and a group of receivers that will be the envy of every team in the NFL, Roethlisberger will lead the Steelers to offensive heights that most people believe were never possible.
Mike Wallace is nearing elite receiver status, Hines Ward is, well, Hines Ward. Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown will both take the next step in their NFL Growth, and Heath Miller will be the safety valve to complete this elite unit.
With Roethlisberger at the helm, I expect the Steelers offense to break most of their records, and Roethlisberger to be the NFL MVP.
Though some people may say that it is not too much of a stretch that the Steelers have a legitimate shot at Super Bowl XLVI, others say they don't have any chance at all.
The reality is, every year, 32 NFL teams set out with the same goal, and that is the Super Bowl. There are MANY teams that have never even been to a Super Bowl.
The list is even longer and more distinguished of teams that have never won a single Lombardi.
This group of 14 teams have never won a Super Bowl. The Steelers are working on their fourth appearance and third victory in the last seven years.
Some would say that the Steelers have already had enough success, while Steelers fans bask in the glory of our teams success.
Expect the haters to hate even more as the Steelers climb the Stairway to Seven, and win the Lombardi once again.