Praise for the Steelers' offense is coming early in 2015.
The newest acclaim for the unit came Monday, when NFL.com rated Pittsburgh's backfield as the fifth best unit in the NFL. Headlined by All-Pro Le'Veon Bell and former Pro Bowl back DeAngelo Williams, NFL.com rated the Steelers' backfield as the top unit in the AFC. The Eagles' backfield, spearheaded by reigning NFL rushing champion DeMarco Murray, was voted as the No.1 backfield in the NFL. The Seahawks, Vikings, and Saints' backfields rounded out the top-four spots on the list.
NFL.com writer Marc Sessler said that Bell's significance on the Steelers' offense was the main reason for Pittsburgh's high ranking, stating that if not for Bell, Pittsburgh wouldn't have cracked the top half of the list. Sessler also alluded to Williams and his importance in supplanting Bell for the first three games of the season.
Behind Bell and Williams in the Steelers running back depth chart is Dri Archer, Josh Harris and Ross Scheuerman. After being used sparingly during his rookie year, Steelers offensive coordinator will look for more ways to get the small by speedy Archer more integrated into the offense. Also a rookie last year, the 5'10'', 210-pound Harris' nine carries in the team's Wild Card game against the Ravens matched his season total. A free agent acquisition, Scheuerman enjoyed back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons his last two years at Lafayette while averaging over 5.0 yards a carry with 26 total touchdowns. The 6'0'', 204-pound Scheuerman's strengths, according to his draft bio NFL.com, include his vision between the tackles, catching ability and ability to return kicks.
The Bengals were right behind the Steelers on the list of best backfields. The main reason for the Bengals' high ranking is second year man Jeremy Hill, who paced all running backs in rushing yards and yards per carry average during the second half of the season, per NFL.com's Chris Wesseling.
The Bills and Chiefs took the seventh and eighth spots, while the Packers were the fifth NFC team to crack the top-10 at No.9. Led by former NFL rushing champion Arian Foster, the Texans rounded out the top-10 backfields in the NFL.
Pittsburgh will face only three backfield that finished in the top-10 on this list in the Chiefs, Bengals and Seahawks. The Steelers held Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles to nine carries for 29 yards last season, while Hill managed to rush for 100 yards on 23 carries in Pittsburgh's win over Cincinnati in the regular season finale.