The 19th Annual Steelers March to the Super Bowl Thread

Last year ended in ignominious fashion. The formerly hapless Cleveland Browns utterly destroyed my beloved Steelers in the playoffs after an 11-0 start to the season. As we learned, running backs do in fact have value, as does an offensive line. While Ben Roethlisberger had himself a decent season, by week 11 everybody realized that all they had to do was drop in coverage because there was zero threat from the running game.

Well, the offensive line is all new and the Steelers drafted Najee Harris, so they at least attempted to address the situation. It’s difficult to draw any conclusions from preseason, but Harris looks to be everything they hoped for and the line is serviceable at worst, so they perhaps turned that corner. They also got a good tight end and the receiving corps is top-5 in the league. A lot depends on the play calling from Matt Canada, the new offensive coordinator. Lots of uncertainty, but it looks promising.

Things are more solid defensively. They lost Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, and Steven Nelson, but TJ Watt got a huge new contract and the pass rush is everything it was last year when it was the best in the league. The secondary is a bit more suspect but Minkah Fitzpatrick and Joe Haden are still high-level players.

The bottom line is that this year could go either way. Pittsburgh has the toughest schedule in the league and the division is stupid tough.

Speaking of the division, the Browns are legitimate contenders assuming Baker Mayfield doesn’t Browns it up. He didn’t get a fat new contract so that’s sitting in the back of his mind, but all he really has to do is hand the ball off to Chubb and protect it the rest of the time. The Ratbirds looked super tough, then they lost 5 players in 19 days including their best cornerback and starting backfield. However, the got Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman, AND Latavius Murray, three blue chip running backs only three seasons ago, as replacements. Time will tell if they have anything left, because the Rats are a running team as well. As for the Bengals, they still can’t protect Joe Burrow but at least he has weapons. They’re not ready for prime time yet but they’re getting there.

And with that, I still think the Steelers have a shot at the division, and they will have a winning record and make the playoffs. More than that with this schedule is too much to ask.

My prediction for week one: Pittsburgh holds tough with Buffalo and wins by a field goal, 31-28. As always, could be wrong, and I wouldn’t bet that forecast, but hope springs eternal and surely you didn’t expect a loss prediction, did you?

As for the NFC, the Packers will make the Super Bowl. As long as it’s not fucking Brady I don’t care. Speaking of which, Dallas looked really good and Brady needed the typical bullshit Brady call to bail him out on Thursday. Am I the only one that’s sick of seeing that? Anyway, NFC, do us all a favor and stomp Tampa out this year.

Enjoy the season, everyone.

I think I have a man crush on Pressley Harvin the Third. Sure, he has a fantastic name (I really, really want him to have a posh, British accent), but I think it’s seeing a 5’11" punter who weighs 263 pounds that makes me smile.

I was right about the holding tough part, but 54 yards of offense ain’t gonna get it done, Pittsburgh. I know the Bills are tough, but it doesn’t get too much easier the rest of the year, either.

God I hate the DPI enforcement now, it’s a fucking joke. Now, WRs apparently have to be allowed to move through the space where the defensive player is to make a catch. Fucking ridiculous.

Just fucking heave the ball downfield every play and take the DPI.

He never turned his head. All he had to do was look back and it’s legit. The reason they don’t look back is because they’re torched, and that will draw a flag every time.

As for the game… man, the Steelers’ defense is beast. And the demise of the offense has been greatly exaggerated. It took a while to warm up and they should have gone for it on 4th and 1 in the third quarter, but they did their job and that catch from Diontae Johnson in the corner of the endzone was outstanding.

They need to play better, but this was week 1. And they’re 1-0 walking out of Buffalo so it’s not a bad start at all.

especially since buffalo was the “most improved team” via the draft trading and free agency this year on paper …

There is no way the DB was “torched” on that play. And the “draw a flag every time” is kinda why I was bitching. It’s a stupid rule if it forces the DB to “turn his head” when he’s in excellent position with his entire body between the WR and the ball making the catch impossible and he’s barely touching the WR. It gives any pass catcher the right to go through a defender no matter what. It’s a stupid rule, it’s unfair to defenses that are already working at a massive disadvantage, and it’s led to the ridiculous increase in passing offenses and wasted time during games.

Anywho, great defensive game by the Steelers. Why didn’t they resign Villanueva?

I was very impressed with the way the Steeler defense stifled the Bills offense. That Buffalo team is a good one.

Villanueva was a turnstile last year, and wanted to test free agency. Pittsburgh let him.

“Over the past three years, Villanueva ranks 12th among left tackles in pass-blocking grade and has routinely done his job in the ground game, producing a negatively graded run-block rate that sits in the 82nd percentile at the position.”

“Villanueva has played left tackle his entire career, so it will be an adjustment moving to the right side. He’s been the model of consistency at the position, grading between 74.0 and 81.2 in each of his past five years while never grading below 77.0 as a pass blocker during that time.”

" There’s immense value in solid, mid-tier offensive linemen, and that’s exactly what Villanueva has been throughout his career. He’s graded between 74.0 and 82.0 in each of his last five seasons; he ranks in the 54th percentile in PFF pass-blocking grade and the 46th percentile in pass-blocking grade on true pass sets during that time.

There’s a similar level of dependability to Villanueva’s game as a run-blocker. He ranks in the 74th percentile at avoiding negatively graded plays but just the 23rd percentile in positively graded plays. NFL teams must avoid having disastrous options at offensive tackle, and Villanueva’s profile makes him a valuable asset."

All quotes from PFF.

Then what did you ask me for? Last season his performance was, to my eyes, worse than it was in years previous, and I watch every game.

Furthermore, the Steelers finished dead last in rushing last year, which is as much the responsibility of the offensive line as it is the back that gets mauled by 4 guys coming to kill him when the offensive line can’t stop them.

It’s not like I dislike the guy, though I might now that he’s a damn Ratbird. He simply didn’t get the job done, and the people who decide such matters let him walk, which says everything you need to know.

Because I didnt understand why the Steelers didnt re-sign him. I thought he was fine, the Ravens are paying him only a bit more than he made with the Steelers in 2020, and the Steelers had next to nothing to replace him with. It didnt make sense. Since I’m not deeply into the guy (although I love his ex-military story) and I have no insight into the Steelers’ way of doing business, I asked. I didn’t know if he was a Brown/Bell issue, a salary cap casualty who was still good, or if the Steelers just thought he stank.

There’s library-like silence here after the loss to the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders/Gamblers. Is AD ok? Even with a tough loss, say to an 0-7 Bengals team, he’s apt to give reasoned game analysis. I’m interested to hear what Steeler fans think of not only this loss but their prospects for the rest of the season.

i won dered that myself as usually come by for some manly ribbing when they lose to the raiders

It’s been a hell of a few weeks work-wise. I’m lucky I actually get to watch the games.

I have a couple of reactions from the game last week. First, the offensive line has a long way to go. The proof of that is the continued inability to consistently run the ball, and Ben’s pectoral injury. He can’t take a lot of shots anymore, and no matter how good Harris is he’ll never be Barry Sanders, he still needs a few blocks on occasion. That said, Ben was throwing downfield, and already has several completions of 20+ yards, which is still an improvement over last year.

Second, when you lose your best cover corner (Haden) and your starting middle linebacker (Bush) before the game starts, and then you lose the best defensive player in the NFL (Watt) and your starting nose tackle (Alualu) during the game you’re in a bit of trouble. They still played tough, but without Watt they couldn’t get close to Carr and that made picking the defense apart easy.

Third, let’s give credit where credit is due: the Raiders are pretty good. It remains to be seen how good, but Carr is in the early discussion for league MVP.

As for this week, it doesn’t get any easier than the Bengals so they really need to win. How the injuries will affect them remains unclear, but if they’re missing their stars again or they’re notably hampered by injury the game will be a crapshoot. If Burrow gets the time Carr did in the second half of the last game Pittsburgh will have a very hard time winning.

So I’m a little conflicted. Ben coming back this year is going to sink your year and delay finding your new QB for a year, which is great. And while the easy choice would be to root for you guys to just be absolutely awful this year, you’d end up with a high draft pick with which you might manage to replace Ben. It might be a little less satisfying, but better for the long term, to root for you to constantly be mediocre - never good, but drafting somewhere around the #10-15 pick and never quite getting that top QB prospect you need.

There are no “good” quarterbacks available in the draft. None of them are can’t miss prospects like this year. Although, it’s not like this year’s crop is lighting it up, either.

This game was lost when the refs swung 10 points for the Packers on that absolutely asinine offside call on the blocked field goal. They timed it dead nuts perfect, and it got called back. What was the margin of victory? Yep. 10 points.

Ben missed some throws that he shouldn’t have, but he wasn’t awful. He’s just suffering in comparison to what he once was. In any case, this needs to be his last year. And I’m intrigued by the idea of Rodgers going to Pittsburgh, though that’s a crazy longshot even with last week’s flirtation.

This may end up being a long year. The Steelers are better than this both individually and collectively, but they’re completely out of sync. If they can fix that they’ll get much better. If they can’t this will be Tomlin’s first losing season.

Yeah, I watched him last year and thought, “That’s not Ben.” Say what you will but he’s been one hell of a QB for his career and last year he was a shell of himself.

Steelers better be shopping for a new passer, whether it’s by trade or the draft.

Rodgers in Pittsburgh would be intriguing.

Well, it’s been a while since I commented on my own thread. What can I say, life very definitely got in the way. I also went to the Denver game and the next weekend did the family thing in Pittsburgh, which extracted a high price at work. I almost have to ask permission to take a day off anymore.

So, after a 1-3 start where everyone was writing them off they’ve won their last three and are now a game behind the Ratbirds. They’ve made every game interesting, and there have been some dubious decisions along the way (like the Boswell concussion play this week), but overall they’ve avoided the injury bug aside from Ju-Ju, which is a good thing. One telling statistic is that they’ve won every game Ben hasn’t thrown an interception in. The run game has substantially improved with Harris and the line is also improving, but there’s still tons of work to do. It hasn’t been pretty, but it’s Steelers football.

More interesting is the unpredictability of the rest of the division. The Rats lose big to the Bengals, who lost to the Jets today. The Browns outrush everybody, except Pittsburgh today. There has been no consistency from any of the teams this year, so of course it will come down to divisional games to decide it all.

And then there’s the rest of the league. What happened to the Chiefs? Tampa just lost to the #3 QB for the Saints. Crazy stuff. Nobody really stands out as the team to beat this year. As long as Pittsburgh wins, doesn’t matter how, they have a chance this year.

yeah this is definitely a "pick-em " year cause they’ve pretty much-achieved party in the NFL to the point it’s down to individual players making a difference