Kickoff season previews  


Will Todd Haley's offense pay dividends?

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Pittsburgh Steelers
2011 record: 12-4 (Second in AFC North)

Fearless Forecast

  • Bucky Brooks

    Mike Tomlin wants the Steelers to return to their running roots, but the lack of a franchise running back will force Ben Roethlisberger to shoulder the offensive load again in 2012.
    Prediction: 9-7, third in AFC North

  • Daniel Jeremiah

    The Steelers will be legitimate contenders as long as Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and Dick LeBeau is running the defense. However, a lot of moving parts need to come together on offense, and the older defensive stars must avoid injury.
    Prediction: 8-8, third in AFC North

  • Adam Schein

    I'm very concerned about the offensive line, the health of Rashard Mendenhall, the happiness of Mike Wallace, whether or not Wallace will learn the new playbook and the dynamic between Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley.
    Prediction: 8-8, third in AFC North

  • Steve Wyche

    The Todd Haley-Ben Roethlisberger union will bear huge fruit. The Steelers' offense will ring up a lot of points and let the defense tee off.
    Prediction: 11-5, second in AFC North

In The Spotlight
Maurkice Pouncey | #53 | C

There is no one single player who will need to be better than this whole offensive line needs to be. Pouncey is at the center of things, because he's, well, the center. And because he's the best lineman, and because it will be on him to keep this unfortunately still-permeable line going. David DeCastro, the first of the two draft picks the Steelers spent on linemen, is already hurt. Ben Roethlisberger needs to stay upright, he needs to stay healthy and the Steelers have to protect better.

3 Pivotal Games
Week 1 at Broncos
Is vengeance possible if the opposing quarterback is different? Either way, the Steelers are starting this season where last season so abruptly ended, in Denver. Safety Ryan Clark, who has a blood condition that thus far has prevented him from playing at Denver’s high altitude, might be out. Will linebacker James Harrison be out, too? Running back Rashard Mendenhall assuredly will sit. How about Mike Wallace? The Steelers starting Week 1 might not be the Steelers of mid-season.
Week 9 at Giants
In 2004, the Giants traded up for Eli Manning. For a while, it looked like they should’ve just waited to draft Roethlisberger. Now both quarterbacks have two Super Bowl titles, and the two teams have won four of the past seven Super Bowls. This could be a good test for a following four-week stretch that includes two games against the rival Ravens.
Week 11 vs. Ravens
The Steelers were swept by the Ravens last season, preventing them from getting a playoff bye and sending them out on the road to face the Tim Tebows. Pittsburgh has to hold serve here. Period.



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