Revisiting Joe Kuzma's 2018 "bold" Pittsburgh Steelers season predictions | Steel City Underground

Steel City Underground

Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
steelers.com

On July 27, 2018, I made some bold predictions ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 season.

Well, being the kind of guy I am, I wanted to return to those predictions before making new ones: and see where I went right (high five!)

And where I went wrong (five low, too slow!)

Here were some of my educated (and somewhat uneducated) guesses I came up with pertaining to the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers. As always, I'm not much of a betting man, so if need some player prop bets explained please keep my track record in mind! (And that means I do not owe you any money!)

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The Steelers win 13 games

What I said

Simple enough: they’ll match their totals from last year… with another sweep of the AFC North!

Cameron Heyward gets double-digit sacks… again

Moving Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt around in early offseason workouts can only help confuse anyone lined up against the team’s 2017 sacks leader. Expect to see the defensive captain, Cam Hewyard, reach at least ten sacks again in 2018.

What actually happened

Heyward would finish the season with eight sacks but the Steelers could only muster nine wins and fall short of winning the AFC North: finishing 4-1-1 in the division.

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Bud Dupree bangs out 8 sacks

What I said

Everyone loves ranting on Dupree’s production, but his six sacks weren’t anything to sneeze at in 2017. His counterpart, Watt, only had 7: but I believe changing up the outside linebacker schemes will benefit Dupree to the point where he’ll average one sack every other game.

What actually happened

Dupree ended the season with a half sack less than the previous season, 5.5. The move benefited T.J. Watt more, as the second-year pass rusher finished 2018 with 13 sacks.

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Antonio Brown breaks Megatron’s record

What I said

I strongly believe AB would’ve done so last year if not for missing 2.5 games with an injury.

Former Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson holds the current single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards. Brown is poised to decimate that figure at some point before his career is over, and 2018 would be the year to do it.

What actually happened

JuJu Smith-Schuster had a record second season, leading the team in receiving yards while Brown had his lowest total in five years, finishing with 1,297 yards.

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JuJu hits a grand

What I said

Another receiver who should breakout this season is Smith-Schuster, who had 917 yards in 14 games during his rookie year.

It should stand to reason he’ll top 1,000 in 2018.

What actually happened

JuJu bested everyone on the team with 1,426 yards, which even made fans believe that Antonio Brown was expendable after skipping the final game of the season.

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Jaylen Samuels scores a half dozen touchdowns

What I said

I don’t know how he’ll do it, but I suspect a kick or punt return for a score are in the mix, as well as 2-3 receiving touchdowns and another on the ground, as the Steelers stop trying to be fancy in the red zone this season with new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner calling the shots.

Samuels has a nose for the end zone and is way too versatile to keep off of the field, as he’ll create even more matchup problems for opposing defenses when mixed in with Brown, Smith-Schuster, Bell, Vance McDonald, James Washington, Jesse James… okay, you get the idea.

What actually happened

Samuels didn't see the field for a good portion of 2018 until James Conner was injured: he then contributed three receiving touchdowns and a monster 172-yards from scrimmage in a win over the Patriots.

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James Conner scores his first career touchdown

What I said

He won’t touch the ball often if Bell signs his tender, but James Conner should wind up in the end zone at least once this upcoming season.

I’ll double-down and say it’s in Week 1 if Bell misses all of training camp.

What actually happened

Conner scored his first touchdown in Week 1 against the Browns when Le'Veon Bell failed to show.

 

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Chris Boswell makes another Pro Bowl

What I said

Sorry Justin Tucker: you’ve been replaced atop the perch of the AFC’s best kickers.

What actually happened

He threw a touchdown pass against the Denver Broncos in a trick play scenario, but otherwise 2018 was such a down year following his 2017 Pro Bowl season, that the Steelers have asked Boswell to hold his roster bonus until after the preseason... or else he would've already been released. (Yikes!)

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Mason Rudolph’s regular season debut

What I said

Hey, if I feel the Steelers will win 13 games again, then there’s no reason not to give the rookie a shot at the lowly Bengals as the starters rest in the regular season finale.

What actually happened

This was sound advice when written in late July before the preseason games kicked off. That's when Joshua Dobbs surpassed Landry Jones for the backup quarterback job as the two battled for a roster spot.

With Dobbs as the backup, Rudolph was rendered inactive for the entire season.

Dobbs, however, would enter five games, attempting a dozen passes.

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Le’Veon Bell doesn’t show until Week 1

What I said

I'm expecting a repeat of 2017. (Yeah, that sucks.)

Bell will skip training camp and the entire preseason before reporting to the team just as the regular season kicks off.

What actually happened

He never showed... at all!

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Steelers finally defeat the Patriots

What I said

Jesse caught it… otherwise this wouldn’t be a “thing”.

I’d even go as far to say the Steelers beat the Patriots twice in the same season, however, I don’t see New England making it back to Pittsburgh for the AFC Championship game once the Steelers lock up the top seed in the conference!

What actually happened

Well this was overzealous, but the headline happened: the Steelers slayed the beast at home, sharing something in common with all of the five teams that beat the Patriots in 2018: none of them made the postseason.





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