#1: Rashard Mendenhall will rush for 1000 or more yards-
Recently I did a post on five on my prediction based on rumors and discussions this off season. The result was that a majority of the predictions were almost expected and hardly any really was radical. So for the sake of discussion I decided that I would make three more predictions that are more extreme in nature. With out further ramblings here I go;
So of you might be thinking "This guy is out of his mind!" after reading that. Yes I know this means that Mendenhall will likely have to average 100 yards a game after returning off the PUP in week 7. However here is why I think that Mendenhall can do it. Mendy is by far the most talented/versatile back on the Steelers roster. Over the last three years he has rushed for over 900+ yards despite having starters like Ramon Foster and Doug Legursky who have never finished a season with a positive run blocking grade. This year Foster and Legs will be replace with DeCastro and Willie Colon who has never finished a season without a positive run blocking grade. I even go as far to say that Colon was the best drive blocker at tackle I had seen in the league. Because of this improvement as well as the ability to keep defenses guessing with runs to both sides, I think Mendenhall will shine. Whether you like Mendenhall or not he is the most talented back the Steelers have and I think he will prove it this year with far better talent in front of him.
Here is the deal with this prediction. According to Pro Football reference James Harrison had the third highest pass rush efficiency out of the league. This was despite dealing with a back injury for the first four games and then dealing with poor conditioning for the remainder of the season. While I don't think Harrison has another 16 sack season in him I don't believe he is done. In 11 games he had 9 sacks I think he can pull off 13 for 2012.
LaMarr Woodley is going to have a big year. Despite a slow start last year which I think was a weight/conditioning issue Woodley had four week span when James Harrison was out that was beyond amazing. From week 5 to 8 Woodley had 7.5 sack. (should of had 8.5 but Kevin Kolb chose to take a Grounding penalty instead of a sack) Then due to a hamstring injury Woodley only played limited snaps in 2 other games. Woodley this year is poised for a big season because of who the Steelers play this year. The Steelers play the Redskins who will give up sacks to a rookie QB, the Jets who have horrid RT play, the Raiders who have never pass blocked well, the Titan who Woodley played good against last year, and the Giants who allowed Eli to get hit a lot. This is not to mention the Browns and a rookie QB twice, the Ravens twice where Woodley generally owns Oher and KC. This also leads me to my next prediction.
#3: LaMarr Woodley will be the Defensive Player of the Year for 2012-
Look I have already pointed out that Woodley has a pretty easy schedule as far as pass blockers go. Woodley will also play a rookie QB four times and that helps Woodley who has at least one INT in three of his last four season. This also won't account for Ziggy Hood who is poised to have his best year in front of him and a healthy Harrison/Keisel combination on the opposite side. QBs will still try to go to their right on the Steelers and Woodley will flourish for it. If I had to put numbers for Woodley I'd say he has a 70 tackle, 16 sacks , 1 INT, 1 Safety and at least 1 TD.
There You have it three more predictions for this season. Yes they all are a little more risky but I hope because of that it brings about more discussion.