Steelers to win AFC North in 2013

With the NFL Season less than a week away, teams have reduced their rosters and are looking forward to the opening kickoff.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a mediocre season last year finishing just 8-8 on the season. This season fans, are expecting the Steelers to reach the postseason.

However, critics say the defense is getting too old and they have to play in a tough AFC division against the Baltimore Ravens, the defending Super Bowl Champions and the Cincinnati Bengals who are on the rise.

Many, including odds makers like Bovada, betonline, topbet and have the Steelers for the AFC crown at 11/1 and the Super Bowl at 25/1. The Steelers win total has been set at 9, with the over at -130.

Nevertheless, the Steelers will surprise many this season and should win the AFC North and battle for the AFC Championship. Reaching the Super Bowl might be a long shot, but they will be their trying.

One reason the Steelers should play well is that important players have returned from injury. Lamarr Woodley and Troy Polamalu are both completely healthy again to start the season. Polamalu was once the defensive player of the year, but suffered from a calf problem the entire year last season.

Last season the defense of the Steelers was No. 1 in yards given up, but they did not have the sacks they needed or create enough turnovers. Woodley will help with the pass rush, as he knows how to get to the quarterback and keep him from being too comfortable in the pocket.

This will also be the second season the Steelers have used the offense of Todd Haley. Last season they were inconsistent and some of that can be attributed to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being out injured.

Some thought Big Ben would not take to the changes, but the professional that he is has accepted them and is moving forward.

The offensive line is once again healthier than it has been in quite some time. Last season the team lost David Decastro its first round pick for more than half the season. While Marcus Gilbert one of the starting tackles was placed on injured reserve following week 6.

This season all should be healthy and experienced and the line should not only open holes for the Steelers running game, but also protect Big Ben for the passing game.

Pittsburgh also enjoyed a solid draft this offseason. They were able to address some of their needs. Jarvis Jones will be an impact defensive player at linebacker from the start.

Le’Veon Bell at running back was listed to be the team’s starter but injured his foot in preseason. He should return before week 5 and will help the sluggish running attack.

Overall, the Steelers look strong top to bottom, with the only exception being their running attack until Bell returns from injury.

Prediction: Win total 9 – Over. Division: AFC North Champion