7. Pittsburgh Steelers
For the second year in a row, the Pittsburgh Steelers are dealing with the aftermath of a frustrated Le’Veon Bell after the running back was slapped with the franchise tag for the second year in a row instead of a long-term deal. From Bell’s perspective, it’s easy to understand the frustration when looking at how valuable he’s been to the Steelers’ offense over the years, but also the team realizes investing that kind of money in a running back his age is risky.
Then again, as long as Bell is ready to go by training camp, this is all Pittsburgh should care about the most since his presence alone gives the Steelers a major advantage when squaring off against opponents. There aren’t many running backs in the NFL that can carry a heavy workload the way Bell does, and when seeing how the Steelers’ offense already has one of the most explosive receivers in Antonio Brown, it’s easy to understand why they’re always an early favorite in the AFC.
However, last January is the perfect example of how an offense can only so much on their own if the defense doesn’t come through, as Pittsburgh was shocked by Jacksonville in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Unless the Steelers improve on defense, they could be in for another early exit in the playoffs if they happen to get that far.