Trib writers offer predictions on Steelers, NFL |

Trib writers offer predictions on Steelers, NFL

The Steelers’ James Conner celebrates his touchdown run against the Cleveland Browns with teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, at Heinz Field.

Have questions about the Steelers? Our staff insiders have answers.

They spent countless hours watching practice and interviewing players and coaches during training camp and the preseason.

Now, find out what they think will happen this season with the black and gold.

The Trib’s beat reporters and columnists offer their thoughts on some key questions surrounding the Steelers and NFL as the regular season gets underway:

What will the Steelers record be?

Chris Adamski: 10-6, and the half-game better than last season will be enough to get them into the playoffs.

Tim Benz: 9-7 … second wild card.

Kevin Gorman: 11-5.

Joe Rutter: 10-6. A slight improvement on 2018, and that should be good enough for a return to the playoffs.


Who will be the biggest surprise contributor on offense?

Adamski: Jaylen Samuels might sneak into the top three of the team in yards from scrimmage.

Benz: Jaylen Samuels.

Gorman: TE Xavier Grimble. He’ll exceed his career numbers (22 catches for 236 yards, three touchdowns).

Rutter: James Washington. He has displayed more poise and confidence than he did last year and could emerge as the second-best receiver on the roster.


Who will be the biggest surprise contributor on defense?

Adamski: Artie Burns (remember him?) will end up with a larger-than-expected role.

Benz: Javon Hargrave.

Gorman: Cameron Sutton, Steelers most versatile defensive back.

Rutter: Stephon Tuitt. More has been expected from the massive defensive end. This is the year he lives up to the big contract he got two years ago.


What is the Steelers’ biggest question mark?

Adamski: Depth at tight end and safety after Vance McDonald and Terrell Edmunds, respectively.

Benz: Passing-game cohesiveness without Antonio Brown.

Gorman: Donte Moncrief. Could be a difference-maker or disappointment.

Rutter: Experience at tight end. The Steelers tried to get a veteran after roster reductions. The quest will continue throughout the year.


What rookie not named Devin Bush will have the biggest impact?

Adamski: Diontae Johnson is the obvious answer, but if Ulysees Gilbert gets a chance, you’ll notice him.

Benz: Kameron Kelly.

Gorman: Ulysees Gilbert, mostly on special teams.

Rutter: Diontae Johnson. The Steelers kept only five receivers, so he’ll get playing time. He also could emerge on special teams.


Who faces the most pressure this season?

Adamski: With free agency on the horizon, Bud Dupree and Sean Davis have a lot of money at stake.

Benz: JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Gorman: Ben Roethlisberger. After leading the NFL in attempts, completions, passing yards and interceptions, his leadership was called into question this offseason. Can Big Ben lead the Steelers back to the Super Bowl?

Rutter: Mike Tomlin. Missing the playoffs for a second year in a row would turn up the heat on Tomlin and raise questions about his future as head coach.


Who is poised for a breakout season?

Adamski: Stephon Tuitt, at long last, goes from good NFL defensive lineman to a truly dominant season.

Benz: Terrell Edmunds.

Gorman: Terrell Edmunds. Started last season out of necessity, this season by design.

Rutter: Terrell Edmunds. He knows the landscape after playing so many snaps as a rookie. That will fast-track his development.


What will be the most disappointing loss?

Adamski: Week 12 at Cincinnati is scary: Thanksgiving week, sandwiched between games vs. Browns.

Benz: One of the Browns games.

Gorman: Losing at Browns on Thursday night, Nov. 14.

Rutter: At Arizona, Dec. 8: A December trip to the desert sandwiched between two home games is a recipe for disaster.


What will be the biggest win?

Adamski: Either the first or last week (at New England or Baltimore). They need to get one of them.

Benz: The Rams.

Gorman: Beating the Browns on Dec. 1 at Heinz Field.

Rutter: At Los Angeles Chargers, Oct. 20: The Steelers never play well on the West Coast, but this one is in prime time, which should bring out their best.


What will be the order of finish in the AFC North?

Adamski: Steelers, Browns, Ravens, Bengals. The top three will be in the playoff race in Week 17.

Benz: Browns, Steelers (second wild card), Ravens (first team out), Bengals.

Gorman: Steelers, Browns, Ravens, Bengals.

Rutter: Steelers, Browns, Ravens, Bengals.


Who will win the AFC?

Adamski: Full list of QBs who have beaten the Patriots in the AFC playoffs since 2013: Peyton Manning. So, Patriots.

Benz: Chiefs.

Gorman: Chiefs.

Rutter: Chargers. They need to get past the Chiefs, but Los Angeles finally will get Philip Rivers to the big game.


Who will win the NFC?

Adamski: How about Miles Sanders as Offensive Rookie of the Year helping the Philadelphia Eagles do it?

Benz: Saints.

Gorman: Rams.

Rutter: Eagles: Saints and Rams also will be in the running.


Who will win the Super Bowl?

Adamski: I don’t have the courage to pick the Cowboys, so I’ll say the Patriots. Silly not to.

Benz: Saints.

Gorman: Rams.

Rutter: Eagles: The pieces are in place for a second championship in three years.

Categories: Sports | Steelers
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.