Meet the most dangerous offense in football. It can terrify defenses through the air with its four-receiver sets, utilizing the unprecedented collective speed of ANTONIO BROWN, MARTAVIS BRYANT, SAMMIE COATES and DARRIUS HEYWARD-BEY. (Oh, and the fifth eligible receiver in that grouping would be LE'VEON BELL.) Or, the Steelers can be a ground juggernaut, pounding the rock behind six offensive linemen or with extra H-backs and tight ends. That's what they did last season when Bell rushed for 835 yards in Weeks 11 through 16.
• BEN ROETHLISBERGER and the front five are the constants in the offensive packages. Roethlisberger has evolved into a field general, both before and after the snap. And at 35 he can still extend plays—in fact, he can do so even more easily than in years past, considering that his line, somewhat quietly, has become one of the NFL's two or three best.
• Bell is the most patient runner the game has ever seen. He can afford to be patient because his acceleration and lateral quickness allow him to burst ahead the instant he sees daylight.
• Defensive coordinator KEITH BUTLER talked this offseason about the importance of playing more basic coverages and rushing only four. Presumably, he'd like to employ a little more man-to-man. In the AFC championship game against New England, Butler used strictly zone, and Tom Brady picked it apart.
• The departure of inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who signed with the Dolphins, is critical when you consider that no replacement was brought in. Instead, Pittsburgh is promoting fifth-year man VINCE WILLIAMS. He's a classic first- and second-down run-thumper, but he may have some trouble teaming with the electrifying RYAN SHAZIER in nickel coverage. Don't be surprised if the Steelers do what they did four years ago and become a dime sub-package defense, with third safety ROBERT GOLDEN essentially playing linebacker.
• The defensive line has a chance to be terrific. CAMERON HEYWARD is a shrewd technician at end. STEPHON TUITT plays with effort and athleticism from the other end. JAVON HARGRAVE has equally impressive athleticism—which is rare in a 305-pound nosetackle.
"ROETHLISBERGER HAS EVOLVED INTO A FIELD GENERAL QUARTERBACK, BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER THE SNAP."
SI'S 2017 PREDICTION
ANDY BENOIT'S 400 MMQB ON.SI.COM/400
5 LE'VEON BELL RB
10 ANTONIO BROWN WR
16 BEN ROETHLISBERGER QB
50 DAVID DECASTRO G
61 RYAN SHAZIER LB
62 MAURKICE POUNCEY C
107 CAMERON HEYWARD DE
149 MARTAVIS BRYANT WR
165 MARCUS GILBERT T
193 STEPHON TUITT DE
219 RAMON FOSTER G
242 BUD DUPREE OLB
309 JAVON HARGRAVE NT
341 JAMES HARRISON OLB