The Steelers spent some time this week talking about the improved atmosphere around the team after things got a bit toxic during the messy end to the 2018 season, but it will take some time to see if that translates to wins on the field.
Until it does, the Steelers are likely to continue to hear doubts that they can return to the playoffs this season. They’ve heard some from oddsmakers who installed the Browns as favorites to win the AFC North and it’s not hard to come across others around the football world who are skeptical of the team.
Cornerback Joe Haden thinks the team can use those doubts “to our advantage.”
“You hear the outside noise,” Haden said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Usually, Pittsburgh, [outsiders are] always, ‘Aw, they’re going to be in the playoffs.’ They just basically put us in the playoffs. Now to hear people not talk as highly of us has kind of put a chip on our shoulder. I think that’s a great thing. We’ve got something to really work for.”
If the AFC North turns out as the oddsmakers project, it would be a significant change for the division, the Browns and the Steelers. It’s only May, though, and that’s plenty of time for Haden and his teammates to keep things from changing too much.