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Steelers projected to reach double-digit wins, and claim AFC North title in 2017

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping for a Super Bowl berth in 2017, and early projections have them on their way with a winning record and another AFC North title.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team hoping they continue on their current trend. It all started in 2014 when the team won the AFC North, but was eliminated in the AFC Wild Card game by the Baltimore Ravens. In 2015, the team advanced to the AFC Divisional round, only to be defeated by eventual Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos. Last year, the team advanced to the AFC Championship, only to be defeated by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

If they continue on this path, it would mean only one thing — a Super Bowl appearance is on the way.

However, there is a lot to decipher before that even enters the realm of possibility. It seems as if the team has the roster to make another run, but can they get the job done? At this stage of the NFL season, we rely on projections and predictions to get us through these dog days of summer.

Recently, ESPN released their Football Power Index (FPI) projections for all 32 NFL teams, and divisions. Wonder how these FPI projections are created, here is a brief summation of the process:

“A team's FPI rating combines its efficiency ratings on offense, defense and special teams -- based on each unit's expected points added per play -- with the sum of all three squad ratings yielding the overall FPI rating.”

Time to see how they have the Steelers doing in 2017.

2017 AFC North Projections

TEAM / WINS / LOSSES / WIN DIVISION

Steelers — 10.1 / 5.9 / 56.0%

Ravens — 8.8 / 7.2 / 25.0%

Bengals — 8.3 / 7.6 18.4%

Browns — 4.8 / 11.2 / 0.6%

The AFC North is once again set to be a tough division, with only the Browns not projected to finish .500 or better. The Steelers are the preseason favorite to take the division for a second straight year, with the Ravens and Bengals fighting for second place. If the division title race comes down to the final week of the season, take note that Pittsburgh faces Cleveland for the third consecutive season, while the Ravens will host the Bengals in what our projections suggest could determine a wild-card berth.

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Not terrible projections, considering the Patriots are the only AFC team to have more projected wins (11.8) than the Steelers’ 10.1. The fact of the matter remains, if the Steelers want to beat the Patriots, when it counts, their best chance is to do so at Heinz Field. This would mean not just winning their division, but finishing with home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Could the road to Super Bowl 52 go through Heinz Field? There is no doubt this team is capable, but they will have to avoid the yearly dud which seems to have haunted this team throughout Mike Tomlin’s tenure.

Only time will tell how the season shakes out, and as Pittsburgh fans are all too familiar, it all comes down to health. If the Steelers can avoid the major rash of injuries, like they did in 2016, they certainly could be on their way to making waves in 2017.