The NFL is unpredictable from year to year. Though we have confidence that certain teams and players around the league will continue their dominance, there are always emerging stars and improved teams that manage to surprise us. The Pittsburgh Steelers will have their work cut out for them in a crowded AFC North in 2023.
Despite competing in a tough division and a conference stacked with up-and-coming quarterbacks, this doesn't mean that the Steelers can't be an improved team this season -- even if it's not necessarily reflected in the final record.
We still have a way to before Steelers training camp even kicks off, but here are five bold predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the AFC North in 2023.
5. Kenny Pickett finishes as a top-3 QB in the AFC North
Considering there are only four starting quarterbacks in each division, finishing inside the top three doesn't seem like an impressive feat. However, it is when you consider who Kenny Pickett is stacked against.
For my money, Joe Burrow has already established himself as a top-3 quarterback in the NFL, and I don't see that changing in 2023. He now has 69 passing touchdowns over the past two seasons to go with a career passer rating of 100.4. There's simply no reason to suggest that Pickett will be better than Burrow this season.
But that doesn't mean that he's guaranteed to be the bottom starting quarterback in the AFC North. Lamar Jackson was a former league MVP, but he has struggled to stay healthy, and despite his massive contract extension, he hasn't made the strides as a passer that many had hoped.
Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson struggled at times during his first action with the Browns after returning from suspension. If he doesn't take a step forward in 2023 and Pickett does, the Steelers quarterback could prove to be a better player in 2023. Pickett will have an uphill battle against three former Pro Bowl quarterbacks, but it's possible he is looked at as a top-3 QB in the AFC North by the end of the season.