The Pittsburgh Steelers usher in a new era in 2022 after Ben Roethlisberger called it quits and they plan to do it with the same unassuming class and acumen as usual.
In the final year of Big Ben's declining career, Mike Tomlin's men somehow managed to finish 9-7-1 and sneak into the postseason.
A repeat run to the playoffs, for which they are 29/10/+290, won't be easy to recreate and the Steelers seem to be hedging their bets over Roethlisberger's successor.
Former Chicago Bears starter Mitchell Trubisky has been confirmed as Tomlin's Week 1 starter with first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett waiting in the wings.
The 23-year-old rookie from New Jersey, who amassed 4,319 passing yards and threw for 42 touchdowns in college, has already done well enough in preseason for the fanbase to be clamoring for him to get his chance.
|What:||NFL Season 2022/23|
|Where:||All across the U.S.A with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City.|
|When:||September 8th 2022 - February 12th 2023|
|How to watch:||The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, while selected games are available via Sky Sports, Channel 5 and Amazon Prime.|
|Odds:||BUF Bills (6/1), TB Buccaneers (7/1), KC Chiefs (10/1), LA Rams (11/1), GB Packers (12/1).|
Another playoff appearance is regarded as a long shot with the AFC looking so strong and the Steelers stepping into the unknown at the key quarterback position.
Patience will be needed and perhaps some pragmatic play calling from Tomlin could ease the pressure on Trubisky's shoulders in the short term.
The Steelers 5/6 to record over 7.5 wins in 2022 - seem to have lost some of their old smashmouth identity on both sides of the ball of late.
But they reached the playoffs despite starting the year 1-3 in 2021 and clearly still have plenty of resolve to fight when the going gets tough.
The Steelers head to Paul Brown Stadium to take on the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals on opening weekend.
Pittsburgh lost both home and away games to the Bengals last year and will be desperate to set the record straight against one of their fiercest division rivals.
Remarkably, even though the Bengals' offensive line gave up 70 sacks between the regular and postseasons, TJ Watt did not record one in the 41-10 loss at Cincy - and he missed the return clash at Heinz Field.
Bengals rusher Joe Mixon was the Steelers' nemesis that day in Cincinnati as he rumbled for 165 yards and two TDs on 28 carries.
Although the Steelers' schedule is no cupcake, it does have other advantages. They will travel the fewest miles of any NFL team this season and they are the only ones that will play all of their 17 games within the Eastern Time Zone.
The opening few weeks look the easiest at first glance with a Week 3 matchup with the Browns taking place during Deshaun Watson's suspension - followed by a home game against perennial strugglers the New York Jets.
Things begin to get tougher in October with a visit from Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sandwiched between games against the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.
This year's two divisional battles with the Baltimore Ravens fall late in the campaign, making them both potentially pivotal to the outcome of each team's season and then Week 18 could be make or break for a playoff berth against the Browns - with Watson available this time.
Tomlin's star began to rise when he coached the Buccaneers' defensive backs during a four-year cycle when Tampa Bay led the NFL in total defense (fewest yards allowed per game), never ranking worse than sixth overall.
The Steelers snapped him up in 2007 and he has since delivered ten playoff runs, seven AFC North titles, and taken Pittsburgh to three AFC Championship Games and two Super Bowls.
Rounding off his second season in style, Tomlin became the youngest head coach to win the Super Bowl at age 36.
Incredibly, he's never had a losing season during his 15-year run in Pittsburgh.
QB Mitchell Trubisky
WR Gunner Olszewski
G James Daniels
C Mason Cole
DT Larry Ogunjobi
LB Myles Jack
CB Levi Wallace
QB Ben Roethlisberger
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
WR James Washington
TE Eric Ebron
G Trai Turner
DT Stephon Tuitt
LB Joe Schobert
CB Joe Haden
|Defensive MVP||TJ Watt|
QB Kenny Pickett (1st Round)
RB Najee Harris
Johnson totalled 107 receptions for 1,161 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns in 16 games last year to ensure he was the Steelers' top offensive weapon.
All-Pro edge rusher Watt, 11/2 for Most Regular Season Sacks, tied the NFL's single-season sack record with 22.5 last season and will be an offensive coordinator's nightmare again in 2022 as he enters his peak years.
The Steelers drafted a breakout star with playmaking potential in 2021 with running back Najee Harris expected to build on a superb first year in Pittsburgh.
The 24-year-old finished fourth in rushing yards and fourth in all-purpose yards while leading all NFL running backs in receptions.