The Pittsburgh Steelers have an optimistic but cautious approach to the 2011-2012 NFL season. They were just one touchdown away from taking the Lombardi Trophy back to the city of steel. The Steelers finished the season at 12-4. Can they take it a step further this season?

**Update 10/26/2011**

With the season pushing the halfway point we have a quick catch up with Big Ben and his Steelers and see how they are doing thus far.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2)

When you look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, they truly are an amazing football team. They're the definition of inconsistent, the numbers don't look good, but all they do is win. This is how they got to the Super Bowl last season.

The Steelers are another team that had their heads handed to them the first week of the season, in a 35-7 loss to Baltimore but have managed to win 5 out of their last 6 games. How did they do it?

Steelers benefit from weak schedule

In their last 6 games, the Steelers have only played 2 teams with a record of .500 or better. They're coming off of a 3 game winning streak. Their last 2 games have been played against teams with a record of 3-10.

Big Ben, big numbers

Ben Roethlisberger hasn't been known for putting up huge numbers as a qb. He's a guy that will do anything to win. He knows how to handle defensive pressure, and at times, has taken a beating. This season, Roethlisberger has put up a 5 TD game against Tennessee in week 5. Roethlisberger is also coming off of a huge game against weak competition. Last Sunday, he was 26 of 39 for 361 yards and 3 TD against the Arizona Cardinals in a double digit victory.

Schedule will tighten up

The next opponent that the Steelers face is the New England Patriots, and they'll have to keep up the solid play. One concern is the running game. Rashard Mendenhall has only rushed for 351 yards on 3.6 yards per carry and 3 TD. Mendenhall is a big part of the offense and when playing a team like New England, he's going to have shake this slump that he's in for Pittsburgh to remain successful.


**Original Article**


Quarterback


Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh SteelersThis position is the most important position for this team. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has won 2 Super Bowl and almost entered an elite group of players by winning his 3rd. He says that it still stays in his mind and they should've won.

Ben Roethlisberger faced a lot of adversity last season. He started the season on a 4 game suspension due to his conduct off of the field and he also had a broken foot towards the end of the season, when things really counted. He resisted having surgery due to where the break was and played through the pain. He said that there were times where he could barely walk on it. There's no doubting the heart of Big Ben. This is partially why he wins continuously. Due to the NFL Lockout, Roethlisberger has been able to rest his foot and he claimed that it was healed.

Last season, Big Ben was still able to throw for 3200 yards, 17 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Roethlisberger has never been about the numbers, he's about winning. Pittsburgh has a very clutch quarterback that's in the prime of his career. I don't know about winning the Super Bowl but look for Ben Roethlisberger to have a good 2011 season.

Running Back

The Pittsburgh Steelers are very solid at the running back position. Rashard Mendenhall is a grinding powerful back. I'm a little shocked that he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry because he seemed unstoppable at times. Mendenhall ran for 1273 yards and 13 touchdowns. As long as Mendenhall stays healthy, Pittsburgh will be a double threat, passing and rushing-wise. They're not very deep at the back. Issac Redman carried the ball for 247 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and Pitt didn't draft a back until late in the draft.

Receivers

Hines WardRoethlisberger expressed that he wouldn't mind having Plaxico Burress back but that's a stretch. Wide receiver offers the receiving core experience and leadership. Ward is a physical receiver that can take hits and was 2nd on the team with 755 yards and 5 touchdowns. At 35 years old, Hines Ward's numbers are starting to decline but his will to win is still intact and he always has a smile on his face.

The Steelers were led by Mike Wallace last season with 1257 yards and 10 touchdowns. This is a player that catches the deep ball, averaging 21 yards per catch. Wallace also closed out the season strong with 3 consecutive 100 yard receiving games. He's a very reliable target for Roethlisberger.

A good team needs a good blocking and receiving tight end. Tight end Heath Miller does the job. Miller had a respectable 42 catches for 512 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Kicker

Kicker Shaun Suisham made the most of his opportunities last season. He played in 7 games and was 14 for 15 in field goals with a long of 48 yards and perfect with extra points. This is a kicker that can do the job.

As a whole, the Steelers stats don't look overwhelming but they have key players at every position.
They were 12th in points (23.4), 14th in yards per game (345.3), 14th in passing yards (225.1), and 11th in rushing (120.2).

Pittsburgh went mainly defense in the early rounds of the draft but did pick up offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert in the 2nd round. This should help out Roethlisberger. Gilbert is large in stature at 6'6", 330 pounds. A very solid pick in that spot.

Defense

Although I stated that the QB is the main figure, the defense played a primary role in getting Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl. The Steelers had possibly the best defense in the NFL. They ranked 1st in points allowed (14.5), 2nd in rushing yards (276.8),12th in passing (214.1), and 1st in rushing, allowing a mere 62.8 yards per game! This is a team that's similar to the Baltimore Ravens but has a better QB and more highly profile players in their prime.

Pittsburgh excels at the linebacker position. but will be much better where defensive end is concerned. The Steelers drafted Cameron Heyward in the first round and much is expected out of him. Defensive end Aaron Smith should be healthy again. He only played in 6 games last season. A healthy Brett Keisel will return after playing in just 11 games last season. Keisel had 33 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 INT (returned for a TD). Young defensive tackle Ziggy Hood will also be a force in his 3rd season.

There's no void to be filled at the linebacking position whatsoever. Lawrence Timmons led Pittsburgh with 135 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. James Farrior was 2nd on the team with 109 tackles, 6 sacks, and 1 interception. Linebacker James Harrison was a monster on defense with 100 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 5 pass defenses, 6 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. What else could this man possibly do?

Troy PolamaluOutside linebacker LaMar Woodley was labeled the franchise tag and had 50 tackles, 10 sacks ,5 pass defenses, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions ( 1 resulting in a touchdown). This is as good a group of linebackers that there are in the NFL. This is why Pittsburgh has rings and is a contender every season.

Defensive Back

You have to start off with one of the most popular players in the NFL, defensive back Troy Polamalu. Polamalu has been hurt for a good part of the last two seasons but still managed to produce last season. In 14 games, Polamalu had 63 tackles, 7 interceptions, (1 for a TD), 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, and 11 past defenses. If Polamalu can stay healthy and play at 100 percent, the Steelers defense will be unstoppable.

Other contributors are Ryan Clark (90 tackles, 2 INT), Ike Taylor (66 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 2 INT) and William Gay (48 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 FF), The pass defense isn't equal to the running defense but they rank in the top half of the NFL.

Summary: This is a Pittsburgh Steelers team that's loaded at every position. The defense is 2nd to none. If injuries can be avoided, the Steelers should be a Super Bowl contender again this season.

According to Bodog, Pittsburgh is the 4th best NFL betting option to win the Super Bowl with bettling odds listed at 12/1. Look out for this team.