Tuesday, August 9, 2016

3 Rivers Rundown: 7 Is The Gateway To NFL Immortality

By Jaison Roberts, @Kratoslives

As the Pittsburgh Steelers set out to start the NFL 2016 season, something should be on the minds of fans and the NFL.

If the Steelers win their seventh Lombardi Trophy, they will be widely viewed as the New York Yankees of the NFL. They will represent everything the NFL wants it's fans to believe in. That any team, no matter what city, big or small, your team is in it every year.

With a group of wide receivers that can do anything on the field, this team's aerial attack may become historic, especially with Antonio Brown leading the charge. He alone with Big Ben staying healthy may be the NFL's first 2000 yard receiver. He has proven that he can't be covered all the time, whether its in single or double coverage. Also with second year receiver Sammie Coates and Darius Heyward-Bey stretching the field, Brown and Markus Wheaton will be open for quick hitters. Even with the retirement of Heath Miller, this offense may be just to much for the league to handle.

The run game isn't going to be any type of cupcake either. With Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, they are going to force defensive coordinators into cold sweats. In my opinion, you are looking at the best overall back in the league when on the field in Bell. The only thing that seems to stop him are horse collar tackles and drug suspensions. Bell might miss the first four games this season, but could win his appeal on August 18, and be ready to go in Week 1. This could be scary for other teams but with Williams' rebirth at the age of 33, there should be no offensive worries.

Future Hall of Fame Ben Roethlisberger is showing no signs of letting up either. Even though he can't run like he used to, his mind has sped up and he now carves up your defense from the neck up. So other than bringing his new tight ends up to speed, Jesse James and Ladrius Green, he will be driving a Bugatti-type custom-made offense, just for him.

Now to the defensive side of the ball, which was last year's albatross, mainly the secondary. It will be extremely difficult to handle with a very disruptive front seven led by defensive ends Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt has become just as violent at the point of attack as Cam and they both get after your quarterback with a vengeance. The linebacker crew is on the way up, once again led by "Deebo" aka James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons. They had the third most sacks in the league last year, even though no one had more than 7 sacks.

The secondary is rebuilt with young talent, other than seven-year veteran free safety Mike Mitchell. This unit will be tested early and often this year. Which also could be a make or break year for defensive backs coach Carnell Lake. If this unit can't produce take aways, I feel that Coach Lake is gone.

So with the first preseason game coming this Friday (versus the Detroit Lions), answers should start to be given to fans as the ride to immortality and title number seven.

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