Brett Keisel feels Pittsburgh Steelers “have the team and the talent to get back” to top of AFC North

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Brett Keisel, the Pittsburgh Steelers oldest defensive player, knows a thing or two about rebound seasons. He feels this year’s Steelers team has all the makings of a squad that’s poised to get back on top of the AFC North.

It's not even a "want" for Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel. It's more like an expectation.

The Steelers oldest defensive player told Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette his team - shut out of a divisional crown since 2010 - has the mindset to win the AFC North this season.

"People can say and believe what they want to believe," Keisel said. "But in this locker room, we feel we have the team and the talent to get back and our first goal is to get back and win our division. Good things have happened around here when we won our division ... that's our mentality,"

The Steelers have won the division four times since 2004, and have advanced to the Super Bowl twice in those four divisional championship seasons. They lost in the first round after taking the AFC North in 2007 and lost in the AFC Championship game after a 15-1 regular season in 2004.

They won Super Bowl XL after earning a wild card spot in 2005, becoming the first team to ever win three consecutive road playoff games and the first six-seed to ever win a Super Bowl.

The Steelers haven't won a playoff game since defeating the Jets in Pittsburgh after the 2010 season. They've lost 10 of their last 20 games, but a retooled roster and a presumed emphasis on a zone running concept (and rookie running back Le'Veon Bell) will give the Steelers a new look this season.

No one needs to remind Keisel every team will provide sound bytes confirming their believe in their team's mentality being consistent with a division championship. The Steelers have seen both the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals beat them in recent years, and both those teams qualified for the playoffs last year - something that hasn't happened since 2009.

The following year, the Steelers retooled their lineup, and advanced to the Super Bowl.

Not every team can say that, but Keisel's can.

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