Football Outsiders also released their early summer predictions on how the AFC would turn out this season. While they had the Steelers at 9-7, a game back from the Vegas predictions, Football Outsiders sees Pittsburgh winning the AFC North this season.
The basis listed in their rundown of the AFC North cites the return of a healthy Maurkice Pouncey as a source of consistency for the Steelers that have had an injury cloud hovering over them for more than a couple of seasons. The Steelers are projected to tie the Bengals at 9-7 but to maintain the superior tie-breakers in order to win the division as they foresee the injury cloud make its home due-west in Cincinnati this season after they saw Leon Hall and Geno Atkins suffer injuries last year.
All things considered, their prediction can be said to be reasonable. Football Outsiders has the #1 seed going to the Denver Broncos again at a 12-4 record followed by the Colts and Patriots being knotted at 10-6. Hosting a wild-card team hasn't boded well for the Steelers in the playoffs since 2002 against the Cleveland Browns (albeit the only other occurrence was Tomlin's premier season at head coach in 2007 in the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars), so any subscribers to suspicious coincidences may want to root against such a result.
A winning record for the first time since the team's 12-4 record in 2011 along with a playoff game at Heinz Field however, is not anything to complain about with the team's inconsistent play for the past two seasons.