Pros, cons of Steelers' Super Bowl chances
WHY THEY WON'T
1. THEY'RE NOT GOOD AT THREE-PEATING
The Steelers were 12-4 each of the past two seasons. Historically it takes a record that good or better to advance to February football. But the last four times the Steelers were coming off double-digit win seasons, they experienced a major backslide during the third season. (Examples: 6-10 in 2003, 8-8 in 2006, 9-7 in 2009). Sometimes a team needs a season to refocus and retool.
2. THE WHO'S-ON-FIRST OFFENSIVE LINE
Roethlisberger has been the NFL's most-sacked quarterback the past five seasons, one reason the Steelers always seem to be refitting their offensive line. First-round pick David DeCastro was supposed to be a difference-maker, but a knee injury will sideline him for an extended period. As a result, the Steelers are reshuffling the line yet again (Willie Colon moves from right tackle to left guard). Haley's offense is designed, in part, to lessen the punishment on Roethlisberger. The offensive line will greatly determine if that happens.
3. THE SCHEDULE
Last season the Steelers played a pair of two-win teams (the Rams and Colts), the four-win Browns twice and the five-win Jaguars. That's five games against teams that won a combined 13 games. There doesn't appear to be as many cupcakes this season on a schedule that includes the Broncos, Titans, Giants, Cowboys, Jets, Eagles and Chargers and two games each against the Ravens and Bengals.
4. TOO MUCH COMMOTION
Distractions abound. Harrison and Jason Worilds still haven't practiced. Mike Wallace's holdout just ended, and he hasn't practiced yet in Haley's offense. The offensive line can't seem to stabilize. Keenan Lewis is unproven on the corner. And the running game is unsettled due to injuries to Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman. That's a lot of issues for a supposed powerhouse.
5. IT'S NOT EASY TO STAY GOOD
This is the Steelers' 80th season. Never have they had three consecutive seasons with 12 wins or more.