January 19, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; General view of the Lamar Hunt trophy following the Denver Broncos 26-16 victory against the New England Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Can The Pittsburgh Steelers Win The AFC North In 2014?

They haven’t taken a regular season snap yet.  They haven’t spent time on the fields in Latrobe.  They haven’t even inked deals with all the 2014 draft picks.  But, hey that can’t stop predictions about how the Pittsburgh Steelers will perform.  Better yet, they guys over at Football Outsiders put wins and losses to their predictions.  Some in Steeler Nation might be a little surprised with where the Black & Gold would end up.

The Outsiders have the Steelers winning the AFC North Division.  That’s right.  Division champs.  Now don’t go running for your phone and calling up your Uncle Ed and telling him that you told him so.  According to the Outsiders, the Steelers win the AFC North with a measly 9-7 record – just one win better than where they ended up last season.  A slight improvement in the record, and hosts of a wild card game.  And while playoffs are better than no playoffs, I’m lacking the warm fuzzy feeling that one would feel with the hopes of a postseason run.  I guess my excitement at the prospect of a postseason falls a bit short because at 9-7, that means the the AFC North has gone from one of the most dominant divisions in football to a rather weak one.

So why the turn of fortunes for a team that has gone back to back 8-8 seasons and a less than desirable draft this spring?  The Outsiders mainly attribute the one game push to the return of Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey.  That’s it?  If the Football Outsiders are even right, then the Steelers have quite a lot of work to do in order to get back above a 10+ win season.  The Steelers take the division after being tied with the Bengals, but take it with the tie breaker.

So what do you think my fellow yinzers?  Can the Steelers break past the .500 barrier for the first time since 2011?  Better yet, how prophetic can the Outsiders be by slotting the Steelers as division winners and poised for a home playoff win?

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