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Early predictions have the Steelers winning the AFC North, and improving on their 2016 record

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Expert analysts are putting together their predictions for the upcoming 2017 regular season, and Steelers fans will be happy with what they are saying.

NFL: AFC Championship-Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Too early for predictions? HA! I laugh at such a sentiment. Predictions are what makes the NFL offseason go. Predicting the schedule, predicting the NFL Draft, predicting the season opening game and most importantly, predicting team records for the 2017 regular season.

In the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers were king of the castle, and went on to play in the AFC Championship game. But will the be able to repeat their divisional success? When FootballOutsiders released their 2017 predictions, they see big things in the future for the Steelers, both in the division, and their overall record.

See what they had to say about the division in 2017:

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 13-3 (13.1 mean wins; SOS: 27)

2. Cincinnati Bengals: 9-7 (8.8 mean wins; SOS: 26)

3. Baltimore Ravens: 8-8 (7.8 mean wins; SOS: 19)

4. Cleveland Browns: 5-11 (5.4 mean wins; SOS: 11)

Pittsburgh and New England come out far ahead of the rest of the league in our forecast, with the Steelers powered by the best offensive projection in the league. The Steelers have exceptional offensive line continuity, as all five starting linemen have been in Pittsburgh for at least four seasons. Pittsburgh might have the best running back and the best wide receiver in the league, and we can expect some rebound from Ben Roethlisberger after an inconsistent 2016 season. We also expect Cincinnati to bounce back on both sides of the ball, and the Bengals get eight home games again after losing one to London in 2016.

Baltimore has brought in talent on defense in free agency, but the Ravens have lost a lot, as well, with the trade of Timmy Jernigan and the surprising retirement of Zachary Orr. Cleveland continues to rebuild, but at least the defense should be better with a full season from Jamie Collins and the return of Desmond Bryant and Nate Orchard from injury.

The Steelers 13-3 prediction would be an improvement on their 2016 regular season record, but the question which is on everyone’s mind is what will the AFC Playoff Picture resemble with these predictions. In other words, how does Football Outsiders think the New England Patriots will fare this season?

They have the Patriots also finishing with a 13-3 record, which means there would be a two-way tie atop the AFC. See how FootballOutsiders sees the 2017 AFC rankings:

“Here's what the 2017 AFC playoff picture would look like according to our early projections.”

1. New England

2. Pittsburgh

3. Oakland

4. Cincinnati*

5. Tennessee

6. Kansas City*

7. Los Angeles Chargers

8. Baltimore

9. Jacksonville

10. Buffalo

11. Indianapolis

12. Miami

13. New York Jets

14. Houston

15. Denver

16. Cleveland

These predictions are extremely early. Some might say too early, especially with the schedule not released yet, but the opponents have been known for a while. So, with that said, do you see things shaking out this way, or do you think this is a little too good to be true?

Let us know how many wins you see the 2017 Steelers having in the below poll:

Poll

How many wins will the Steelers have in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    12 or more
    (974 votes)
  • 21%
    11
    (289 votes)
  • 3%
    10
    (45 votes)
  • 2%
    9 or less
    (35 votes)
1343 votes total Vote Now