What Pittsburgh Steelers Fans Should Be Thankful For


This Thanksgiving, Steeler fans have a lot to be thankful for. Unlike recent years, the Black & Gold are in the thick of the AFC Playoff picture.   With five games remaining, the Steelers control their own destiny as season draws to a close.

As turkey day arrives, here are the four things Steeler fans should be thankful for this Thanksgiving:

A Top 5 Offense

For the first time since 2002, the Steelers are ranked amongst the top offenses in the NFL.  The Steelers are averaging 406.2 yards per game and are tied for eight in points with 26.2.  It would have been a bit of a stretch to think the Steelers would be in this position early in the season.

With the offense seeming to mesh with the Steel City Triplets (Roethlisberger, Brown and Bell), the Black & Gold have been rolling on all cylinders.  And with four of the next five opponents ranking towards the bottom of the league in total defense (Saints, Falcons and the Bengals twice), the offensive explosion should continue.

The Return of Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor

After missing extended time with injuring, the Steelers are expecting both Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor to play this week versus New Orleans.  That is great news for a beat up Steelers secondary.   Before going down with a sprained knee, Polamalu was playing close to the same level that earned him multiple All-Pro nods.

But in his absence, the secondary has been victimized by two of the worst passing attacks in the NFL.  The returns of Polamalu and Taylor, who has been out with a broken forearm, should give the Steelers a boast provided they remain healthy.  And it will be all hands on deck over the next three weeks as the Steelers will face two top 10 facing attacks.

The Rise of Martavis Bryant

It took Markus Wheaton more than a season to make an impact for the Black & Gold.  For Martavis Bryant, it only took half a season.  The fourth round pick out of Clemson has made the biggest impact of any Steelers’ draft pick this season.  Since being unleashed against the Colts, Bryant has set the NFL by storm. The young wide out has racked up 321 yards and 6 touchdowns on 16 catches in 5 games this season.

Though he was held out of the end zone against the Titans, Bryant has cemented himself as a red zone target thanks to his 6-4 frame.  He also has shown his speed , burning the Jets defense for a 80 yard catch and run in the final minutes of their Week 10 loss.  Going forward, look for Todd Haley to continue to sprinkle in more opportunities for Bryant to showcase his playmaking ability.

The Silverback Turns Back the Clock

When James Harrison resigned with the Steelers earlier this season, there was a lot of speculation surrounding the 36 year old.  After struggling last year in Cincinnati, many seemed to write off the former Defensive MVP.  But after going through what he called his “preseason”, Harrison has shown flashes of his MVP form.  The Kent State product posted consecutive two-sack performances against Indianapolis and Baltimore.  Harrison recorded only two sacks in all of 2013.

Though Harrison has been shut out of the sack category in the last two games, he should be licking his chops for the remainder of the season.  The Saints, Bengals and Falcons have struggled protecting the quarterback this season.  Look for Harrison to feast on quarterbacks as we head down the stretch run to the playoffs.

Happy Thanksgiving!