"Old, Slow, Over." Those were the famous words spoken by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Oakland Raider Warren Sapp on a broadcast after the Pittsburgh Steelers were pounced in their Week 1 game of 2011 against their hated rivals, the Baltimore Ravens.
According to Sapp, the Steelers were no longer the competitive team they had been over the last two decades, and he predicted that they would not make the playoffs.
Fast-forward 16 weeks, and the Pittsburgh Steelers finished the 2011 season with a record of 12-4— second, by the tiebreaker, to those same Baltimore Ravens for the AFC North crown. The Steelers did in fact make the playoffs, which translates to Sapp simply being wrong.
Fast-forward to June 20, 2012. Shaun King, former quarterback for those same Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was asked in an interview with ProFootballTalk.com which playoff teams from 2011 would not make the playoffs in 2012.
Go to the 9:00-minute mark of the video to see when King starts talking about the Steelers.
King starts off by saying the first problem is that Ben Roethlisberger, though he is an elite player, is going to have a difficult time transitioning to the new system by Todd Haley. Then, King goes on to say that the absence of Rashard Mendenhall is going to hurt the Steelers as well because Isaac Redman may not be a capable replacement.
The next excuse is that Mike Wallace is currently not under contract and that "cloud of Mike Wallace hanging over the organization."
As for the defense, King states that the defense is "transitioning." King then goes on to say that "they are getting older in some spots, they're trying to get some young players to come in and perform at that level."
"Troy Polamalu has some issues staying healthy for a whole season, so I think Pittsburgh is going to be that kind of Marquee team that maybe takes a step back "
Not that anyone should simply take what Shaun King has to say as biblical—or even at face value. I wouldn't want anyone to take what I say in that same way either.
Rather than say what I think is going to happen, the best way to predict the future is to look at the past. Here is my opinion as to why I believe the Pittsburgh Steelers are not only going to make the playoffs but be serious contenders as the AFC representative for the Super Bowl.