May 10, 2019
As we await the start of the 2019 National Football League season Steelers Nation hopes for a bounce back season and another playoff appearance for the Black and Gold.
However, in one ESPN column online today, the prognosis for Pittsburgh making a run at a post-season spot is not too promising. Reading the early power rankings below, where ESPN has the Steelers is more of a joke than anything else. Steelers fans are used to seeing their team disrespected but this might be the worst example in a really long time.
Just consider some of the teams ahead of the Steelers. First and foremost, CLEVELAND? The Titans? Green Bay? Chicago? I believe this team with or without Antonio Brown is better than those just mentioned. There are some promising rookies that will make this year’s team and last season’s failures stemmed much in part because of the distractions from Le’Veon Bell and A.B. now two EX-Steelers.
With that said, here you go with the rankings and commentary placed upon the Steelers.
2019 NFL Power Rankings: Projected wins and playoff chances from 1-32
Free agency has mostly run its course, trades have been made, and the 2019 NFL draft has concluded. So it's a perfect time for another edition of the NFL Power Rankings. We're doing things a bit differently this time. Rather than compiling rankings from our throng of reporters and experts, we're using this edition to unveil the first set of ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) ratings. Each team's rating is composed of a predicted offensive, defensive and special teams efficiency, as measured by expected points added per play, and that rating is the basis for FPI's game-level and season-level projections.
The FPI has established the 1-32 order that follows, with our NFL Nation reporters giving their takes on where their teams improved the most in the offseason. So enjoy as you get ready for OTAs and minicamps to start.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. New Orleans Saints
3. Los Angeles Rams
4. New England Patriots
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. Los Angeles Chargers
7. Chicago Bears
8. Houston Texans
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Philadelphia Eagles
11. Minnesota Vikings
12. Green Bay Packers
13. Tennessee Titans
14. Seattle Seahawks
15. Cleveland Browns-Projected wins: 8.8. Chance to make playoffs: 51.5 percent
Where the team improved this offseason: League image. The Browns have gone from longtime league laughingstock to the NFL's trendiest team. Cleveland rode the momentum from a turnaround 2018 season and became one of the most aggressive teams in adding high-profile talent. The Browns upgraded with playmakers such as wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., running back Kareem Hunt, pass-rusher Olivier Vernon and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Owners of the NFL's longest playoff drought (16 seasons), the Browns are now a popular pick to win their first AFC North title.
16. Pittsburgh Steelers
By Jeremy Fowler
Projected wins: 8.5. Chance to make playoffs: 45.8 percent
Where the team improved this offseason: Pass coverage. The Steelers have shown a commitment to improving their pass defense over the past three months. The signing of free agent Steven Nelson gives Pittsburgh a legitimate starting corner alongside Joe Haden. The franchise drafted linebacker Devin Bush No. 10 overall in part because of his speed and coverage ability, areas in which free-agent linebacker Mark Barron will also help. Third-round cornerback Justin Layne was considered one of the most aggressive press corners in the draft. The back end looks stronger, which is necessary for a team that has struggled drafting cornerbacks in recent years.
One of those Steelers rookies who should make the team is Isaiah Buggs and he has an immediate advantage. Defensive Line Coach Karl Dunbar was his coach at the University of Alabama. In fact, Dunbar was responsible for recruiting Buggs while he was playing football at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Dunbar’s lowdown on the sixth round draft pick:
“Very explosive guy who can get to the passer. We were surprised he was still on the board. We jumped at the opportunity after filling other needs earlier in the draft. I think he is a good pass rusher over the guard. A guy who can play the four-eye and a guy who when we go to sub can get over the guard and center and be a productive player.”
For the record, Buggs played two years for the Crimson Tide rolling up 102 tackles, 44 solos, 11 sacks, three passes defended, and 17 ½ tackles for a loss.
Sticking with the NFL there is some newsworthy items today. How unfortunate for Tampa Bay’s Jason Pierre-Paul. Several years ago he blew off some digits on his hand while messing with some fireworks. Now, he was in a car accident last week and suffered a fractured neck. Pierre-Paul will visit a specialist but word is he may have to have surgery and could miss the entire 2019 season.
Then you have one of the new additions to the Cleveland Browns, Odell Beckham Jr. who is predicting this for himself and his new team:
“I plan on being in Cleveland for the next five years and trying to bring as many championships there as possible, turning the Browns into the new Patriots.”
HUH? Ok. Everyone is jumping on the Cleveland bandwagon believing they are a playoff team in 2019 with some even thinking Super Bowl. I don’t buy into that and until I see victories piling up in the win column, the Browns for me are improved but not better than the Steelers and nowhere near a Super Bowl run…yet.
Remember, Cleveland has not been to the post-season in 17 years and over the last four years has won just 11 games.
Speaking of OBJ, check out his getup for the 2019 Met Gala held recently in New York at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Now we move to Le’Veon Bell now a member of the New York Jets. To no one’s surprise, one Green and White fan tweeted the other day, “When @leveonbell gone come to practice.” As Steelers fans know, Bell made it a practice of waiting until opening day or later to actually show up and play some ball. Now he’s at it again.
Bell’s response to the fan’s tweet?
“When it’s time to play football…I got to stick to the formula that I know works for me to be the best player I can be…I’m not just tryna win football games, I want a ring! I want to desperately show everybody what I can what I can REALLY do…I’ll take the heat right now, everybody will forget that once January comes around.”
Aahhhh dude…when January comes around you’ll be like me…sitting at home watching the NFL playoffs. RING? You won’t be wearing a Super Bowl ring as long as you are playing for the New York Jets. Who is he kidding…REALLY?
Happy birthday to Bill Cowher who turns 62 today!
One little hockey note here…odds are out already for the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup chances and the Penguins have been listed by Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook as 16-1 odds to win the cup. Fresh off being swept in four straight games by the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2018-2019’s best team, the Tampa Bay Lightening who tied an all-time record with 62 victories, have the best odds at 6-1.
The UFC and Bellator are in action tomorrow with Bellator staging Michael Chandler vs. Pit Bull in the main event but in the UFC its championship #237 and I break that down on the MMA/Boxing page.