Ravens

Ravens Divisional Rival Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers

Key Losses

William Gay, CB (Released) 

The Steelers released Gay after his role diminished in 2017. Gay, 33, had played almost his entire career in Pittsburgh and was the only defensive player remaining from the 2008 super bowl roster. While his on-field impact had been declining, they could struggle to replace his veteran leadership and experience.

Martavis Bryant, WR (Traded) 

The Steelers executed a draft day trade with the Raiders, sending Martavis Bryant to Oakland in exchange for a third-round pick. Bryant’s role diminished last season with the emergence of JuJu Smith-Schuster. He still managed to record 50 catches, but his YPC of 12.1 was the lowest mark of his career. His big-play ability could be difficult to replicate within the offense next season.

Mike Mitchell, S (Released) 

Mitchell was a productive safety who started the past four seasons in Pittsburgh. He was set to enter the final season of his 5-year contract, but the Steelers opted to release him. Mitchell, 30, recorded a combined 286 tackles, four interceptions, and four recovered fumbles during his Steelers tenure.

Key Additions

Mason Rudolph, QB (Draft) 

With the 12th pick in the third round of the draft, the Steelers selected Mason Rudolph. Rudolph was an accomplished 3-year starter at Oklahoma State University, and many see him as a potential replacement for Ben Roethlisberger. However, Roethlisberger recently said he wants to play several more years, so it could be awhile before Rudolph makes an impact.

Morgan Burnett, S (Free Agency)

Burnett signed a 3-year, $14.5 million contract with the Steelers this offseason. He played the past eight seasons in Green Bay as a member of the Packers. Burnett is versatile and can play both safety positions. In 2017, he recorded 68 tackles and 3 defended passes in 12 games.

Terrell Edumunds, S (Draft)

The Steelers used their first-round pick to select Terell Edmunds, a safety out of Virginia Tech. Edmunds is an athletic, rangy defender who played three collegiate seasons, recording 196 tackles and 6 interceptions. He may not see many snaps with Morgan Burnett and Sean Davis also on the depth chart, but Edmunds figures to be a long-term fixture at the postion.

Best-Case Scenario

The Steelers continue to dominate the AFC North behind arguably the most potent offense in the league. Ben Roethlisberger shows no signs of slowing down and continues to perform like a top-tier quarterback.

Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are again the best at their respective positions. Bud Dupree and T.J Watt for a dangerous duo at the outside linebacker positions. Joe Haden, Morgan Burnett and Sean Davis anchor an improved secondary.

Result: 13-3, AFC Championship Game 

Worst-Case Scenario

Pittsburgh takes a slight step back, but still has enough talent to win the division. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have again have stellar seasons, while Roethlisberger regresses slightly in his 15th season.

The defense misses the presence of Ryan Shazier at middle linebacker and Mike Mitchell at safety, and overall takes a step back. However, the talent on offense is enough to make up for the inconsistent play on defense.

Result: 10-6, AFC Wild Card Game 

Season Prediction

The Steelers again pace the AFC North, splitting with the Ravens while sweeping their season series against the Bengals and Browns.

The offense again finishes amongst the league leaders in most statistical categories. Le’Veon Bell paces the rushing attack en route to another dynamic season, while Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster share 1,000 yard seasons.

A young, talented defense is solid enough to keep the Steelers in contention throughout the year.

Offensive MVP: Antonio Brown 

Defensive MVP: T.J Watt 

Rookie of the Year: Terrell Edmunds 

Result: 12-4, AFC Championship Game

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