Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post says beware of the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. La Canfora believes the Steelers might be the AFC’s most dangerous sleeper.
“After a summer of listening to personnel executives I trust gush about Pittsburgh’s influx of talent, consider me on the bandwagon,” La Canfora wrote. “The Steelers are back, and they are going to be a problem in their division — perhaps the best division in football — and beyond. The defense is elite, a point that doesn’t need to be belabored. (Perennial defensive player of the year candidate T.J. Watt is in full health, this operation is 29-10-1 the past three years when he puts on a uniform, and rookie Nick Herbig looks like Pittsburgh’s next impact pass rushing discovery.) More notably, the offense made major strides down the stretch last season and seems primed for a further breakout.
“Factor in the cohesion and consistency among the offensive and defensive schemes and coaching staff, what appears to be another home run of a draft class and Coach Mike Tomlin’s sterling track record — he has never had a losing season in 16 years at the helm, in case you somehow hadn’t heard — and this sounds like the recipe for an overlooked team to outperform projections.”
A longtime NFL personnel executive who scouted the AFC North exhaustively this preseason told La Canfora that the Steelers are his sleeper team in the AFC. “I love what they’re doing. They’re building a deep football team, man. They had another great offseason. They overhauled the offensive line, and I think that’s the best defense in the AFC North. They found five more starters in the draft. And I was talking to some of their [scouts], and they really like this lineman they got from Maryland [seventh-round guard Spencer Anderson], and I’m not even counting that kid because I didn’t see him much. Look out for the Steelers. They are going to make noise.”
🏈 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks gave his scouting report on the Steelers’ offense.
— Blitzburgh (@Blitz_Burgh) September 5, 2023
🏈 Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports has the Steelers selecting Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham at 10th overall in his latest 2024 mock draft.
“The Steelers looked like a Super Bowl team in the preseason but we’ll find out how much improved the offensive line is. If you’re Kenny Pickett, you’d probably love the idea of having Broderick Jones and JC Latham as your bookends at tackle going forward.”
🏈 Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports thinks the Steelers ceiling this year is 11-6 and winning the AFC North. He thinks their floor is 8-9 and missing the playoffs.
🏈 According to John Chapman of The49ersRush.com, if Nick Bosa misses Week 1 he will lose a game check of $922,166. Bosa is currently the sixth-highest paid edge rusher in the NFL at $17.9 million this year (AAV). Bosa remains in a holdout, as he reportedly wants Aaron Donald type of money or over ($31.6 million AAV).
🏈 49ers All-Pro strong safety Talanoa Hufanga said they’re preparing as if reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa won’t play on Sunday against the Steelers.
“For us, we just got to play with who we got,” Hufanga said. “We would love to have Bosa, obviously. I think that’s a no-brainer. Best defensive player in NFL, and it shows. For us, we’ve just got to prepare as if he’s not going to be here. We’d love to have him.”
— Cam Inman (@CamInman) September 4, 2023
🏈 The Steelers have the fourth-most disliked fanbase in the NFL, per a study by SportsBetting.ag. The Dallas Cowboys have the most disliked fanbase, followed by the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.
🏈 John Breech of CBS Sports has the Steelers going 9-8 this year and finishing last in the AFC North. Breech said the AFC North is so loaded this year that the entire division could end up making NFL history. Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, there has never been a season where every single team in a division finished with a winning record.
🏈 Kenny Pickett credited the quarterback position for making him mentally tough and blocking out the outside noise from naysayers on social media.
“I’ve been called every name under the sun in this game,” Picket said on the Steel Here podcast. “I’ll still go out there feeling I’m the best on Sundays. I’ve been playing for a while now, and you know, having a good career in college and now getting my NFL career started. It comes with the position, comes with the territory. If you’re mentally weak, this game will eat you alive. I feel like I’m in a good place mentally, and I’m excited to get going.”
🎂 Happy Birthday to former Steelers running back Greg Hawthorne, born on September 5, 1956 in Fort Worth, Texas. Hawthorne was a first-round selection by the Steelers in 1979. As a rookie, he won a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers in Super Bowl XIV over the Los Angeles Rams. Hawthorne rushed for 522 yards on 136 carries (3.8 average) and seven touchdowns during his time in Pittsburgh from 1979-1983. Hawthorne went on to play for the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts before retiring following the 1987 season.
🎥 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk spoke with the San Francisco media about facing Steelers cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Joey Porter Jr. on Sunday.
— Blitzburgh (@Blitz_Burgh) September 5, 2023
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