While the Steelers have one of the hardest schedules in the NFL this upcoming season, some of their tougher opponents are struggling in the off season. One team is said to be a "disaster." Here is a look that the team's competition through week five.
Patriots- Week 1- How bad is their quarterback situation if Brady is out?
There's a chance Jimmy Garoppolo won't start during the opening game, and only part of the reason has to do with Tom Brady's appeal. The Patriot's backup is having trouble connecting with the receivers. He's not, however, having any trouble connecting with his team's defenders as he threw five interceptions during 11-on-11 drills. He was so bad, Patriots.com reported that Garrett Gilbert could end up being their second string guy.
The state of the Patriot's secondary is also rather dismal as the team lost Kyle Arrington, Darrelle Revis, and Brandon Browner during the off season. This could be a boon for the Steelers WR corps.
49ers- Week 2- How disastrous will their season be?
The biggest news coming out of San Francisco this week was the surprise retirement of Anthony Davis due to concerns about brain injury and overall health. The fate of fullback Bruce Miller is also questionable since he was arrested for domestic violence back in March. This was the team's seventh arrest since 2012. He reached a plea deal, but it is unknown at this point if he will face NFL sanctions as well.
The 49ers have attempted to address some areas of deficiency on offense by acquiring Torrey Smith, Reggie Bush, and Jerome Simpson after losing Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, and Mike Iupati. They also brought on a new offensive coordinator, Geep Chyrst.
The team is rebuilding on the defensive side of the ball as well since their star DEs Justin Smith and Ray McDonald both departed after last season. Like the Patriots, the 49er's secondary may struggle. They are hoping free-agent CB Shareece Wright will pick up some slack.
There has been some hysteria about the team "falling apart" in the offseason. In addition to losing talent and coming off of several poor draft classes, the team is also in a transition year with a new head coach.
Rams- Week 3- Did they waste their first-round pick?
One of the biggest questions facing the Rams is the fate of their first-round pick, RB Todd Gurley. Pundits fear this choice was a mistake, citing disappointing RB Trent Richardson whom the Cleveland Browns picked up in the first round of the 2012 draft. Gurley is currently recovering from an ACL injury he sustained during the November 15, 2014 game against Auburn and there are other concerns about his durability based on different kinds of injuries in 2013.
QB Nick Foles is another wildcard, though the Rams are claiming he has been performing well at OTAs. With new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti, the team is predicted to rely more heavily on the run game. The Ram's defense well-staffed for the 2015 season, particularly the defensive line which boasts Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Chris Long, and Robert Quinn. The weakest defensive unit is the secondary, which, again, should be of particular benefit to the Steelers passing game.
Ravens- Week 4 & 16 What does Trestman have in store?
While his brother is running around shirtless in Alabama at a satellite camp, John Harbaugh was busy with OTAs. Two wide receivers are out with serious injuries as Aldrick Robinson suffered an ACL sprain and Michael Campanaro got hurt. Also on the injury front, it is still unknown if Dennis Pitta will be cleared to play this upcoming season.
Haloti Ngata's absence will surely be felt, and it is unknown how former Bear's head coach Marc Trestman will adjust to his role as Raven's offensive coordinator.
Chargers- Week 5 How will impending transitions affect the team and fanbase?
In March, the Chargers signed former Raven Jacoby Jones to a two-year deal, a move that should improve their return game. This is not a lock, however, since Jones dropped five passes as a receiver in 2014 and muffed two punts. New acquisition Stevie Johnson should be an asset for the chargers at WR.
Ryan Mathews is now with the Eagles (he and DeMarco Murray should be a scary combination). Dwight Freeney, and Jarrett Johnson are also gone, though star CB Brandon Flowers is still around.
Meanwhile, the team is facing off-field distractions amid speculation that they will make the move to Los Angeles and certainty that many key veterans will not be returning for 2016, a fact that has dampened fans' enthusiasm for their team.