The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has gone through a facelift during the past seven days or so, and this transition has the unit poised to be a stronger force in 2017. Talk is cheap, but what exactly can fans expect from the Steelers defense this year?
I give you four bold predictions for the Black-and-gold defense.
1. Bud Dupree gets double-digit sacks
The Steelers haven’t had a linebacker register double-digit sacks since LaMarr Woodley wore No. 56 for the team. Yeah, it’s been quite awhile. Dupree breaks that streak in 2017, and I’ll say he ends the year with 12 total sacks. Not exactly mind-blowing numbers, but a huge step in the right direction.
2. Serious increase in turnovers
The Steelers registered 23 turnovers, 13 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries in 2016, and they should increase that number in 2017. Why? Because of Dupree and the team’s aforementioned pass rush. Causing early, forced or errant passes will only add to the turnover numbers. Getting more possessions for the offense equates to more wins.
3. Just shy of 50 sacks
Last year the defense finished with 38 sacks. Increasing that by 12 sacks isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but might be a bit extreme. I’m bold, but maybe not that bold. I have them increasing their sack numbers by 10, and finishing 2017 with 48 sacks, a solid improvement from the previous year.
4. Top-10 unit once the dust settles
Like many, I’ve said the Steelers don’t need a Top-10 defense to win a championship, and I still believe that’s true. But I also think the defense will finish in the top-10 of overall defenses in 2017. The team’s secondary is vastly improved, and if the core of the defense stays healthy, there’s no reason to believe they won’t among the top-10 defenses.
Do you agree, or disagree, with these predictions? Let us know in the comment section below.
I go into further detail regarding these predictions in the podcast in the player above.