Many things will factor in between now and the start of the 2013 Steelers season. Ben says he’ll be ready, but will the knee be an issue? How soon can TE Heath Miller return to form? Will the rookies be given a chance to make any kind of contributions on defense? Is the sense of laziness and lack of passion continue from last year? Who will emerge as the feature back, the deep threat, the nose tackle and the corner opposite Ike Taylor? Whether or not fans want to admit (and many of you don’t), 2013 may be a down year for Pittsburgh with eyes towards 2014 and beyond. There are some very good young players here, but Dick Lebeau seems content to let young guys sit and rot while his starters age and decline. Mike Tomlin has got to stop coaching down to his competition. I do believe that offensive rookies like Markus Wheaton and Le’veon Bell will and should be given every opportunity to contribute right away,but realistically, how often will Jarvis Jones, Shamarko Thomas, or Vince Williams truly take the field on defense?
Here is my look at the Steelers 2013 schedule and how I think they will honestly and realistically do
WEEK 1 Titans
They open at home against a Titans team with just as many questions. Tennessee beat them last year, but I can’t see it twice in a row.
WEEK 2 at Bengals
The Bengals added talent and depth to a young and talented roster. They’re better than Pittsburgh right now. This Monday night clash will be the Bengals statement to the league
WEEK 3 Bears
I hate Jay Cutler as a player, he’s soft and a whiner. Even without Urlacher, the Bears still have a solid ‘D’ with two Pro Bowl corners as well as the tough running of Matt Forte. This one will be a nice old fashioned defensive slugfest but I think the Bears D and a big return from Devin Hester turn the tide.
Week 4 Vikings
London Bowl #1. Still not sure what the Vikes have in Christian Ponder, but there’s no questions about Adrian Peterson. If the Steelers can contain him, it puts things squarely on Ponder and a shaky WR corps. Jared Allen has the potential to wreck havoc in the backfield, but I think somehow Pittsburgh takes this one
WEEK 5 Jets
Steelers travel to my home state of NJ, I’m still working on getting tickets to this one. The Jets are awful. Only problem is that when Pittsburgh plays the Jets on the road they lose. Plus, my wife is a Jets fan so if they lose this I’ll never hear the end of it. By a field goal or two, Tomlin silences the great wide mouth known as Rex Ryan
WEEK 6 Ravens
The best rivalry in the NFL hands down. I still think Joe Flacco is a so-so QB, one great playoff run does not define a career. Without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed this loses a little, but blowhard Terrell Suggs remains, so there will be no shortage of billboard material to motivate. I think this one goes to the hometown team.
WEEK 7 Raiders
Bad as they have been, the Steelers just can’t beat the Raiders and I don’t think they do here either. The silver and black just seem to have their number.
WEEK 8 Patriots
Tim Tebow. There, I did my duty and mentioned his name. If he’s still there by this game, he could play a huge role. Even without him, I think this stays close until the final few minutes. They’re on the road on this one, so that tilts it Brady and co. way
WEEK 9 Bills
If the Bills could ever get their act together, they could be something. I think they do in 2013 and Pittsburgh suffers
WEEK 10 Lions
C.mon, it’s the Lions
WEEK 11 Browns
They usually split this series. Give this one to us
WEEK 12 Ravens
The Ravens get revenge on this Thursday night clash. Equally painful will be having to listen to Mike Mayock for three hours.
Winner : Ravens
WEEK 13 Dolphins
Mike Wallace will be receiving “special” attention from the Steelers D, but I like Miami as a serious challenger to the Pats in the division. Give it to the Fins.
WEEK 14 Bengals
I still like the Bengals better at this point, but I think some of the youth on the Steelers start to come through and make this a great game. In the end I think Dalton and Green connect on a late TD.
WEEK 15 Packers
With a complete offense, including the solid 1/2 running combo of rookies Eddie Lacy and Johnathon Franklin, the Packers could be lethal. Steelers won’t be yet, so the cheeseheads gets this one.
WEEK 16 Browns
Brown are coming up. They’ve added some nice pieces to an underrated defense. Yes, I said these two usually split the series, but I think the Steelers find a way to sweep.