The Steelers went 11-5 last season and lost in the AFC Championship Game. This year they are reloaded and look like one of the few teams that could actually challenge the New England Patriots' dominance. Injuries and suspensions have prevented the Steelers from living up to their potential but with arguably the top RB and WR in the league, a Super Bowl berth is not a out of reach. The team was 14th in rushing yards in 2016 but Le'Veon Bell is not suspended to start this season so that should improve. The team gets WR Martavis Bryant back from suspension so the fifth ranked passing attack in the league has potential to be more explosive through the air as well. On the defensive side of the ball, they recently added Pro-Bowl CB Joe Haden after he was released by the Browns. Haden's addition addresses a big need for the Steelers. I believe the Steel Curtain will meet the Pats in the AFC Championship game again.
Do not be surprised if the Texans are in the Super Bowl. I say this because they are not just playing for themselves this season, they are playing for the entire city of Houston that was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. We have seen in previous instances how teams rally together through disasters to prevail to greater heights than expected. This Texans team has the talent to get the job done. They have a solid RB in Lamar Miller and one of the best WRs in the league in Deandre Hopkins. Opposing QBs and O-lines will be in hell every week having to deal with JJ Wyatt and Jadeveon Clowney coming off the edges. The question every year for the Texans is the QB position. Will Tom Savage or Deshaun Watson be able to get the Texans over the hump. The team was 29th in passing offense last season and will need a drastic improvement. They sure better hope they get it to be competitive in the playoffs but the defense alone will get them there.
This Patriots team is fresh off a Super Bowl win and made moves in the offseason to be even better. Two of their biggest moves were adding Pro Bowl CB Stephon Gilmore and trading for WR Brandin Cooks. They also get a healthy Gronk back on the field. The team lost Tom Brady's favorite target in Julian Edelman to injury for the year but quickly traded for Colts' WR Phillip Dorsett to add depth at that position. The team was fourth in passing in 2016 but with the lost of RB LeGarrette Blount, the team is without a true workhorse in the backfield. I can see them airing it out more and Brady moving into the top three of passing yards for the season. The Patriots are poised to head back to another Super Bowl and many (myself included) expect them to go undefeated.
The best thing the Raiders did this offseason was acquire retired RB Marshawn Lynch and getting him to come out of retirement. The Raiders have one of the best offensive lines in the league and he should have a field day with the holes they create for him (if he has not lost a step). The team was sixth in rushing in 2016 and that could improve with a motivated Lynch. Besides that move, the Raiders did not get that much better but they also did not get any worse. The Chiefs were their biggest competition and I believe letting WR Jeremy Maclin go will come back to haunt them in the long run.
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