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Tim Benz: Steelers reaching Super Bowl over Patriots? Too optimistic

September 10, 2018 GMT

The 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers will win the AFC Championship Game in New England and go to the Super Bowl.

Has a nice ring to it, right?

Now then, do you actually believe that will happen?

Sports Illustrated does. Andy Benoit wrote this forecast:

“In the AFC, the Patriots feel a touch weaker this year, so I’m giving that conference to the Steelers, who can win with a smashmouth ground game or a high-flying spread passing game. They, too, have a defense in its prime.”

Benoit goes on to predict the Steelers will go 11-5 in the regular season to win the AFC North; they’ll beat San Diego and the Patriots in the playoffs and lose to the Falcons in the Super Bowl, 27-24.

Wow! That’s optimistic from a Pittsburgh perspective. I’d settle for that alleged “defense in its prime” holding the Titans to under 40 points this Saturday in the preseason home opener.

Let’s take a look at what Benoit wrote a little more in depth.

• I’m on board with the regular-season prediction. It’s odd to say that the Steelers are going to wind up better in the postseason after being worse in the regular season. But I get it.

With so many last-possession wins, the Steelers are due to have a bit of a correction after 13 regular seasons victories a year ago.

Similar to Benoit, I have the Steelers winning the AFC North at 10-6. That likely won’t be good enough to grab the second seed and a bye in the AFC playoff tree as Benoit is predicting.

• Even though they may have to win a home game against a wild-card club and a second-round road contest, I could see that happening for the Steelers as they advance to the AFC Championship Game.

It’s not my prediction, though. I’m much more of a believer in Jacksonville than most. Many seem to think they were a one-year fluke. Not me. I bet they end up being the second best team in the AFC.

If you put a gun to my head, I say the Steelers’ season ends in Jacksonville in the second round of the playoffs.

Although, to Benoit’s point, should the Steelers make it to New England for another AFC Championship Game rematch, I wouldn’t be stunned.

• Beating the Patriots in New England to win the AFC title? Yeah. That would stun me. That’s one of those ”’I’ll only believe it when I see it” moments.

• If the Steelers make the Super Bowl, I would also expect them to play Atlanta. I’m picking the Falcons to win the Super Bowl, too.

• What I don’t expect is a final score of 27-24. If the Falcons and Steelers play each other in the Super Bowl, it’ll be 27-24 before the dogs get off their leashes in the Puppy Bowl.

Try 46-37 Falcons instead.

And make that score over the Patriots.

Not the Steelers.