Weeks six through nine have the potential to be more challenging than the first few games of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 2015 season, but much is still up in the air. There are things we do know, however, regarding personnel changes and injury.
Cardinals- Week 6 Will the Cardinals be crippled by injuries once again?
What does the bespectacled, beret-wearing coach Bruce Arians have in store for Steelers West this season? As one of the better coaches in the league, he is capable of getting the most out of his team. Last year, though, he faced some staffing challenges due to injury. Arians is claiming that Carson Palmer is almost at 100% after an injury that crippled both the QB and the team as a whole.
They also struggle at LB, with one of the weakest linebacker groups in the NFL. LaMarr Woodley now plays for the Cardinals, but given his history with injuries and lack of conditioning he probably will not fill the void. Sean Weatherspoon and Daryl Washington are not reliable either.
Chiefs- Week 7 Does it even make a difference that the Chiefs lost three WRs?
The Kansas City Chiefs have been blessed with healthy players this offseason with the exception of LB Derrick Johnson recovering from an Achilles injury, DT Dontari Poe struggling with back spasms, and WR Albert Wilson hurt with a strained hamstring.
The Chiefs lost WRs Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, and AJ Jenkins and had some turnover on the offensive line as well.
Bengals- Weeks 8 & 14 Will AJ McCarron have a role this year?
The Bengals have lost several key players this season including Jermaine Gresham, Mike Pollak, and Marshall Newhouse on the offensive side of the ball and Terrance Newman and Robert Geathers on the defensive side of the ball. They have had very little turnover on defense, though LB Vontaze Burfict is recovering from surgery and could be out for some time. He could end up on the Physically Unable to Perform list, which would put him out for the first six weeks of the season. The Steelers and Bengals don't meet up for the first time until week 8, so he could be on the field by then.
Meanwhile QB AJ McCarron is apparently looking very good so far at OTAs.
Raiders- Week 9 What will high player turnover do for the team?
The Raiders haven't fielded a competitive team in a while, but the Raiders-Steelers game always seems to be tough for the Black and Gold. Safety Charles Woodson, DL CJ Wilson, and CB Chimdi Chekwa are all returning, while the team lost RB Darren McFadden, DT Pat Sims (who went to the Bengals), WR Vincent Brown, WR Denarious Moore, and C Stefen Wisniewski.
They also picked up quite a few players in free agency, including RB Trent Richardson, QB Christian Ponder, Safety Nate Allen, RB Roy Helu, and WR Michael Crabtree.
The Raiders D line is the worst in the NFL. Justin Tuck is no longer the player he once was, and the team may end up needing to count on DE Mario Edwards Jr., their second-round pick. How will this weakness play out for the Steelers powerhouse offense?