We’ll continue a series of opponent preview posts for the New Orleans Saints opponents in 2018. Our last preview of the series is the last of our AFC opponents: the Pittsburgh Steelers. Our friends over at Behind the Steel Curtain took some time to give us Saints fans the scoop on the home of the Killer Bees.
Week 16: vs the Pittsburgh Steelers
Notable free agent additions:
ILB Jon Bostic / S Morgan Burnett
10.5 wins OVER -- The Steelers play in an improving, but far from accomplished AFC North. Combine that with still one of the most talented offensive rosters in all of football, the Steelers should at least be able to cover 11 wins in the 2018 regular season.
Most exciting rookie:
The rookie I am most excited about, and also because I feel he will have the biggest impact when it comes to playing time, is second round pick out of Oklahoma State, WR James Washington. Washington was one of the premiere deep threat receivers in college football while at Oklahoma State, and this will be the same role the Steelers ask him to fill with Martavis Bryant gone. Washington could round out a terrific receiving corps with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Position battle to keep an eye on:
This is debatable, but I am excited about how the team deploys their safeties this season. Sean Davis is the only safety returning from last year, and with the addition of Morgan Burnett in free agency and Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen in the NFL Draft -- things could get interesting. I fully expect Burnett and Davis to be side-by-side when Week 1 rolls around, but I foresee roles for both Edmunds and Allen within the defense.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
Major media outlets will say Le’Veon Bell’s likely absence, but the development and maturation of rookie quarterback Mason Rudolph is what I will have my eye on. Ben Roethlisberger is supplanted as the franchise quarterback until he hangs it up, but Rudolph has impressed every coach, trainer and player since he walked into the Pittsburgh International Airport. Will Rudolph show he is the future? Or will he be nothing more than a competent backup?
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
James Conner’s development will be a storyline to keep tabs on, while it won’t be drawing huge headlines. Bell won’t be in camp, as expected when he didn’t get a good enough contract offer, and Conner is coming off a very lukewarm rookie season. During his rookie year Conner was injured during training camp and ended early with a knee injury. He is back with a healthy knee, a year of experience and the knowledge of what it takes to be an NFL running back. He will have a golden opportunity to prove he could be the next ‘guy’ for the Steelers in the backfield when Bell departs after 2018.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
None...Knock on wood.
The Saints have a tough matchup with the Steelers sandwiched between their two games against the rival Carolina Panthers. It’s likely this game will have major playoff implications in Week 16.
So what says you, you unbiased Saints fans? Can the Saints win an important game on the way to closing out the season? Vote in the poll. Explain in the comments. And make sure you also check out DraftDividends.com, a website for a new book I’m writing currently titled Draft Picks and Dividends: A Fantasy Football Player’s Guide to Understanding the Stock Market.
How will the Saints fare against the Steelers?
This poll is closed