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Taking a timeout on the offseason predictions

Leading up to draft week, I suffer from a condition I’ve labeled Mockdraftitis. It’s caused by endless predictions and assumptions presented almost as facts, when in truth there are so many variables and unknown factors that they might as well be guessing lottery numbers. Once the draft is over, I start to feel the relief of my Mockdraftitis symptoms subsiding, which can range from mild annoyance to an almost irresistible urge to smash expensive electronic devices with a cast iron skillet.

But, much like a stubborn rash that just won’t go away, the relentless offseason pursuit of predicting the unpredictable continues, and the Mockdraftitis mutates into multiple new viruses. Predicting the schedule, ranking the difficulty of said schedule, setting team rosters, and forecasting next year’s draft picks make short work of my brief respite, and I start looking for the skillets that the family has hidden from me.

Let’s take a break from all that pointless guesswork and review what we know for sure right now. We know the Steelers draft picks, and that the promise to invest in the offensive line was kept. We know the team wants to bring back a physical running game that dominates time of possession and sets up the play action passing game. That should relieve the incredible pressure the defense has been under the last several seasons, where they barely had time to catch their breath before heading right back out on the field. With the defensive line now the thin unit on the team, that is a solid theory to keep that group fresh. As plans go, it seems to be a good one.

We know the opponents for the upcoming season. It’s being ranked as the third most difficult based on 2023 winning percentages. Take that for what it’s worth, which is about as much as the warranties for my electronic devices, which apparently don’t cover random instances of misplaced kitchen cookware rage. How difficult a game may be changes from week to week, based on injuries, weather, team cohesiveness, and the effectiveness of the game plan. The Steelers have been in a catch-22 when it comes to strength of schedule as of late. They are good enough to win every game where they are considered underdogs, yet bad enough to lose every game where they are considered heavy favorites. Every team drops a surprise game here and there. Teams like Kansas City and San Francisco will likely be favorites almost every week, yet they will not go undefeated. The difference is it’s a surprise when they lose to an underperforming team.

While the Steelers have been very predictable with their win totals, how they achieve that number has not been as they beat teams they shouldn’t and lose to teams that boggle the mind. It feels like that inconsistency might finally be at an end as the organization has placed an emphasis on team first players as of late and sending anyone not willing to toe the line away without hesitation. As talented as the Killer B’s era was, they weren’t exactly setting the example for being leaders or preparing their best for each and every opponent. It would not be a surprise for that former team to beat the Chiefs and then turn around and lose to the Commanders on this schedule. Perhaps this year’s roster will have a more consistent work ethic and win the games they should win, and steal a few they shouldn’t.

Instead of being in a rush to predict every aspect of the season before it arrives, let’s all take a breath and enjoy where we are. The draft seems to have gone as well as it could have, and there is an actual NFL caliber offensive coordinator in the building. We have a completely revamped QB room, and both the coaching staff and the front office seems determined to change up both the processes and the results of the last several seasons. That is a plethora of unknowns, and why it will be exciting to watch. This upcoming season will be the most unpredictable one we as Steeler fans have had in years, and it will be here and gone before we know it. Not knowing what will happen is where all the fun is at, and my prediction is every game will be unpredictable, just as it should be.


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