Steelers season preview: Will offense carry defense?

Around the NFL's season preview continues with the AFC North

Change we can believe in

History be damned. Pittsburgh's football legacy might be the Steel Curtain, Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, etc., but the 2015 edition is all about the offense. Even with Le'Veon Bell missing two games and breakout candidate Martavis Bryant sitting out four, the Steelers boast one of the top -- if not the best -- offensive units in the entire NFL. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Bell make up the best triplets in the NFL -- with Jordy Nelson out for the year, the competition for that honor isn't even that close.

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  • can put up 30 points a game in 2015. When Bell and Bryant return to the lineup, we believe they can and will.

    Biggest concern

    The offense will probably need to score at least 30 points most weeks. Out is legendary Dick LeBeau; in is new defensive coordinator Keith Butler. The LeBeau-less Steelers defense, is staring at a transition year. The back end of the defense is of most concern. It's so bad in the defensive secondary, Mike Tomlin has taken a hands-on approach in teaching his young secondary, and Pittsburgh will utilize more cover-two in 2015. With pass rush question marks still lingering (we are staring at you, Jarvis Jones), the secondary will be picked apart by good quarterbacks. It appears to be a defensive transition year in Pittsburgh, which could ultimately derail their Super Bowl aspirations.

    Training camp surprise

    Martavis Bryant's four-game suspension sideswiped the outside world (not to mention the fantasy football medium). The Steelers apparently were prepared for the second-year receiver to miss time -- hence the Sammie Coates draft selection and talking up Markus Wheaton all offseason. The suspension puts Wheaton in the driver's seat to start the year as the No. 2 wideout, but we expect Bryant to see plenty of targets once he comes back and opens up the offense with his big-play ability.

    What we'll be saying in February

    "I can't believe you (expletive) fools put stock in that terrible defense, again?!?" OK, we won't be saying that, but surely some of you might be.

    In the end, the Steelers' offense was too talented, too deep and too explosive for AFC counterparts to slow down. Big Ben, Brown and Bell led the NFL's No. 1 overall offense deep into the playoffs -- where the defense was ultimately its undoing.

    Predicted finish: AFC North champion, No. 1 seed in AFC playoffs, No. 3 overall in Around the NFL's Power Poll.

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