Believe it or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers report to training camp on July 25th, and we are digging up the '32 Scenarios in 32 Days' segment to help us all pass the time. Once a day we will be drafting a potential 2015 season scenario, telling you why it will happen, why it won't and giving you important keys for the scenario to take place.
Scenario: The Pittsburgh Steelers claim the second straight AFC North crown in 2015.
Why it will happen: The Pittsburgh Steelers are flat out the most complete team in the division. Their offense is by far the best in the division, and their defense isn't far behind the competition, even as a middle-of-the-road unit. The Steelers have a tough schedule, but they are built to withstand any blow an opponent can throw with one of their own with the likes of Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell.
32 scenarios in 32 days: Jarvis Jones gets 8 sacks
There might not be a more polarizing player on the Steelers roster than Jarvis Jones. The former first round draft pick hasn't had much time to prove himself, but can he stay healthy and provide 8 sacks in 2015?
On top of the Steelers being a pretty complete team, they play the AFC North extremely well. In 2014 they finished the 6-game stretch 4-2, splitting their season series with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, while sweeping the Cincinnati Bengals. Playing the division well will go a long way in bringing the AFC North crown back to the Steel City and hosting a playoff game.
Lastly, the Steelers seem to play their best football at the end of the season, when it matters most. Last year the team rattled off 4 games in a row and in 2013 they won their final 3 games before narrowly missing the playoffs. Those late season games, which always involve division rivals, are crucial for a team's success and the Steelers have been pretty good the past few years in the month of December.
Why it won't happen: There are several reasons why this scenario won't happen, and the first would be the team's murderer's row schedule. It would be difficult for any team to post double-digit wins with this schedule, even with the Steelers amazing offense, and there are many who predict the Steelers barely getting 10 wins, if that.
Next, missing Le'Veon Bell for any duration of time could put a hurt on not just the Steelers offense, but the team. The Steelers rely on Bell to help make things click, and with Bell out for the first 3 games of the 2015 season, you have to wonder how it will impact an offense which is expected to carry a lackluster defensive unit next season.
Lastly, the Steelers play in the most competitive division in football. In 2014 three of the four teams in the AFC North made the playoffs, and it is a testament to how the division plays itself out on a yearly basis. It is rare someone runs away with the division, and with the Steelers' 2015 schedule it may be tough for them to keep pace.
Keys: The Steelers have to get off to a good start, and take advantage of the first half of their schedule if they want to win back-to-back division titles. Even without Bell at the beginning of the season, the Steelers will have to win tough games if they want to prove 2014 wasn't just a flash in the pan against two sub-par divisions. The team will have a tough row to hoe, but it doesn't mean the team can't stand up tall and win games next season. It should be noted the last time the Steelers held the most difficult schedule in the NFL, they ended up winning Super Bowl 43. It would all start with a division crown though...