We are less than a week away from the start of the NFL season.  That means it is time for the Steelers Sanctuary annual Steelers predictions post for 2022.  We take on all the key points like record, playoffs, and also do a couple of fun ones as well. Let’s get started:

1. Steelers 2022 record: (9-8)

Mike Tomlin keeps his “no losing seasons” streak alive in 2022.  We really feel like this team has a wide range of outcomes this season.  If they stay healthy, and the offensive line straightens itself out, this could be a very good team.  If not, it also could go very badly.  In the end Tomlin once again coaches his way past .500.  Check out our podcast to hear my game by game predictions here:https://www.buzzsprout.com/1981237/11266209

2. AFC North Standings: 1. Bengals, 2. Steelers, 3. Ravens, 4. Browns

The Cincinnati Bengals are clearly the class of the AFC North as much as it pains us to admit.  They went out and fixed their biggest weakness on the offensive line by adding Alex Kappa and La’el Collins.  The Ravens are in for a serious regression in our eyes.  Lamar Jackson is unhappy with his contract situation, and the team did him no favors at the wide receiver position.  As far as the Browns go, well they’re the Browns.   Without Deshaun Watson for a good chunk of the season, they are destined for last place.

This should leave the Steelers in good shape for second place in the AFC North.  If a few things break the right way, Pittsburgh could even give the Bengals a serious run for the division.

3. AFC Playoff Teams: Bills, Bengals, Colts, Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins, Steelers

Yes, we have the Pittsburgh Steelers making the playoffs as the last wild card team.  The AFC is very top heavy, but after the first four or five teams it drops off.  We feel like this will be the year the Buffalo Bills finally get the monkey off their back.  Josh Allen will lead the Bills to their first ever Super Bowl victory.  For the record, we have the San Francisco 49ers as the NFC representative for the Super Bowl.

4. Steelers leader in receiving yards: Diontae Johnson

Diontae Johnson is far and away the best player in this very talented wide receiver room.  He will benefit the most from having a far more accurate quarterback to take advantage of his elite route running.  A quarterback who hits Diontae Johnson in stride will also unlock his incredible run after catch talents.  Look for a monster year from the Steelers veteran wide receiver.

5. Steelers leader in passing yards: Kenny Pickett

We just have this sneaking feeling that Kenny Pickett will find his way onto the field sooner rather than later in 2022.  The most logical game would be coming off the bye against the Saints in week 9.  That would give him enough time to take lead from Mitch Trubisky in passing yards.  Don’t sleep on it happening even sooner than that.  Pickett proved he is more than ready this preseason.  Any struggles from Trubisky, and he may get a quick hook.  The Steelers starting quarterback should be Kenny Pickett

6. Steelers touchdown leader (non-qb): Pat Freiermuth

No matter who the quarterback is in 2022, expect them to lean heavily on Pat Freiermuth in the redzone.  A big target, with excellent hands is the perfect threat in close to the end zone.  Look for Frieirmuth to build on his seven touchdowns from last season, and lead the entire team in this category.

7. Interceptions leader: Minkah Fitzpatrick

With the supposed improvement in the run defense on tap for 2022, Minkah Fitzpatrick can go back to actually playing free safety instead of being one of the key run defenders for this team.  If that indeed ends up being the case, look for a return to his old turnover machine self this season.

8. Steelers leader in tackles:  Devin Bush

I know what you’re thinking, have I lost my damn mind?  Well perhaps, but my gut feeling is Devin Bush has a big season and proves us all wrong this year.  He is now a full season past his 2019 knee surgery, and with the help of new linebackers coach Brian Flores we expect a bounce back year here.  This is about as far out a limb as we can go with Steelers predictions, but we have a feeling here.

9. Steelers rookie of the year: George Pickens

No surprise here folks.  Pickens has been the talk of camp the entire preseason.  With much of the attention going towards Diontae Johnson, Pickens should feast on second and third corners around the NFL.  Not only should he be the Steelers rookie of the year, but George Pickens should be in the running for NFL rookie of the year as well.

10.  Steeler we’ll miss the most in 2022: Ju Ju Smith Schuster

This is not so much for need, as it is for sentimental reasons.  Ju Ju Smith Schuster got a bit of a raw deal his last few years in Pittsburgh.  It started with the horrendous quarterback play of this team the last two seasons that really hurt his production.  Then can me the injury woes from last season.  Still, lets not forget this one of the toughest players to where a Steelers uniform over the last ten years.  Many criticized the social media exploits, but Ju Ju backed it up every time he took the field.  We will be reminded of his extraordinary talent again this year while he plays in Kansas City.