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: Steelers sweep the AFC North in 2015, going 6-0 in divisional play.
Why it will happen: The Pittsburgh Steelers finished 2014 with a 4-2 divisional record. They swept the Cincinnati Bengals in both meetings, but split the season series with both the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns. Most might find the thought of the Steelers sweeping the division and finishing with a 6-0 record as ridiculous, but it might not be such a drastic thought.
For the first time in a long time, the Steelers won't be traveling to Baltimore on a short week, but will be heading to Baltimore for a Sunday night game at the end of the season. The schedule makers were certainly in the Steelers' favor when they laid out their divisional games. The Ravens in Weeks 4 and 16, Bengals in Weeks 8 and 14 and the Browns in Weeks 10 and 17. For years the Steelers have been forced to play a divisional rival in near back-to-back weeks with only one week in between, but this year the spread out schedule will aide the Steelers by allowing them time to prepare for each matchup and have a full week before each.
32 scenarios in 32 days: Dupree collects 5 sacks
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Bud Dupree in the first round for a reason. To make plays. Could the Steelers see their prized first round draft pick register 5 sacks in 2015?
Schedule aside, this 2015 Steelers offense very well could be the best in the league, let alone the AFC North. The AFC North might have a solid group of defensive teams, but they haven't seen anything like what the Steelers will be putting on display every Sunday. Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Heath Miller, Sammie Coates and Dri Archer. Need I say more? The lethal offensive unit could very well have the team putting up enough points to steamroll their divisional competition.
Why it won't happen: The AFC North is a ridiculously competitive division. Even near the midway point of 2014, all 4 teams were sporting a record above .500. If that weren't impressive enough, there were three teams from the AFC North represented in the AFC Playoffs.
It is a difficult division with all teams putting together stellar defenses and points coming at a minimum. On top of the divisional competition level, the Steelers most certainly struggle with divisional opponents on the road. The Steelers lost to the Ravens and Browns on the road in 2014, and add it the fact the Steelers often split with two of the three teams in the division makes this scenario very unlikely.
Although it is within the realm of realism to think the Steelers could sweep the Bengals and Browns in 2015, the Ravens continue to be the thorn in the team's side. They dominated the Steelers early in 2014, and ended their season at Heinz Field in the AFC Wild Card playoffs. The Steelers impressive offense is often stymied by the Ravens defense lead by Terrell Suggs and now Elvis Dumervil.
The Steelers could perform extremely well within the AFC North in 2015, but sweeping the division seems to be a bit excessive.
Keys: The ultimate key for the Steelers sweeping the AFC North relies on the health of the team. If the Steelers can have key members of both the offense and defense healthy, they have a chance to see this come to fruition. The AFC North might be competitive, but that doesn't exactly mean it is housing world beaters at every turn. The AFC North is capable of being swept, and the Steelers will have to have their play makers at their disposal if they want it to happen. If the team is ravished with injuries, this scenario will be nothing more than wishful thinking.