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NFL power rankings countdown to training camp: Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 18

The 2021 NFL training camp is just around the corner. We break down the top 32 teams. Today, we look at the Pittsburgh Steelers who rank No. 18 in our preseason power rankings.

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris participates in drills during minicamp held at Heinz Field. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers won their first 11 games with a dominant defense, adequate short passing game and easy schedule. But things fell apart quickly after losing to the Washington Football Team in Week 13 and then losing five of their last six games, including a loss to the Browns in the Wild Card round.

2020 record

12-4, 1st AFC North

2020 defense

Points: 21.2 points per game, rank 5th (tied with 1 team)
Yards: 5.0 yards per play, rank 2nd (tied with 3 teams)
Football Outsiders Ranking: 1st

2020 offense

Points: 26.6 points per game, rank 12th
Yards: 5.2 yards per play, rank 24th (tied with 2 teams)
Football Outsiders Ranking: 22nd

2021 DraftKings Sportsbook odds

Super Bowl: +4000
AFC/NFC Champion: +1800
Win Total: 8.5 (Over -107, Under -114)

Offseason moves

The Steelers didn’t have much money to spend, so they were quiet this offseason. That also pushed them to let some players go, like cornerback Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton. They also didn’t improve their offensive line, which was needed.

Their biggest addition was running back Najee Harris in the first round of the draft. The Steelers hope he can cure a lot of the problems they had offensively in 2020.

Biggest question entering training camp

Once again the biggest question will center on Ben Roethlisberger’s arm. Roethlisberger had offseason surgery on his elbow and it likely contributed to his arm faltering at the end of the season. He had trouble opening up the field deep and to the sidelines, especially with no semblance of a running game. Maybe a season removed from his surgery will help, but there is no doubt he is getting into the downward trajectory of his carer.

What needs to happen for the Steelers to win the Super Bowl?

The Steelers will need a healthy and productive season from their rookie running back, which would help take some pressure off of Roethlisberger’s arm and the defense. But in the end it will come down to Roethlisberger having a late career resurgence.

2021 Outlook

The trajectory of the Steelers from the end of last season is an arrow pointing straight down. Their defense will keep them in games, but they did lose key members of the secondary. It’s hard to project Roethlisberger turning things around in a big way, but Harris should help enough to keep the offense from a total collapse. We can’t expect anything close to their 11-game win streak and should lower our expectations to a .500 win percentage team.