Through thick and thin the Pittsburgh Steelers have found a way to finish at .500 or better in each of the last 18 seasons. For that reason expectations are always high within the Pittsburgh city limits. Oddsmakers are projecting this historic streak to come to a close, but Bleacher Report has a different view on this new-look Steelers squad.

Oddsmakers have come to a consensus on the Steelers’ win total, which is currently set at 7.5 wins for the regular season. Though the AFC North is not getting any easier, Pittsburgh still has plenty of talent to surpass the number, and even extend the streak to 19 straight years with a winning record.

Many will point to QB Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement as a reason for regression, but his play in 2021 did not set a particularly high bar for newcomers Mitch Trubisky and first-round pick Kenny Pickett.

Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report describes the quarterback situation in Pittsburgh:

“Don’t discount the Pittsburgh Steelers just because longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retired. Head coach Mike Tomlin knows how to win, and the roster features plenty of difference-makers, particularly on defense,” wrote Sobleski.

“Quarterback remains a work in progress, though. Mitchell Trubisky and No. 20 overall pick Kenny Pickett will compete for the starting spot, with the former likely opening the season behind center. However, Pickett will almost certainly start games this season.”

Trubisky and Pickett each possess the ability to make plays with their legs, which is one trait that was missing in Roethlisberger’s game. His ability to extend plays was uncanny, but his style became predictable during the back end of his career.

“While the Steelers figure out their offensive identity, they’ll do so knowing they’ll likely be better behind center than what they got from Roethlisberger over the last two seasons. The franchise’s all-time leading passer limited the entire scheme because of his lack of mobility and inability to drive the ball down the field,” notes Sobleski.

“Pittsburgh does have talent on offense with running back Najee Harris, tight end Pat Freiermuth and wide receivers Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and rookie second-round pick George Pickens. Meanwhile, the Steelers defense can take over a game at a moment’s notice thanks to playmakers like T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick.”

Whether it’s Trubisky or Pickett, the Steelers’ receivers should see plenty more balls deep down the field as each signal caller has the makeup to thrive in play action.

With the offense becoming less predictable Harris should also see an uptick in efficiency after receiving more touches than any running back in the NFL in his rookie season.

Sobleski mentioned the defensive talent the Steelers have in Watt, Heyward, and Fitzpatrick. That trio plays a major role in a unit that will give almost any offense in the league a chance to win double-digit games.

Most teams would commit to a rebuild after moving on from a quarterback like Big Ben, but the Steelers are a rare case. The culture is second to none and most of team’s core are entering the prime of their careers. In a division where the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens jockey for offseason accolades, don’t forget about the sleeping giant in Pittsburgh.

Featured image via Phillip G. Pavely – USA TODAY Sports