Six Reasons the Pittsburgh Steelers Will Win the AFC North

TJ JenkinsAnalyst IMarch 7, 2009

1. The Defense

Alright, so this was pretty obvious. The best defense in the league last year returns all but one starter as of the writing of this article, and that is starting cornerback Bryant McFadden. No one has signed him yet, even though teams have interviewed him so there is still an opportunity for him to return to Pittsburgh.

The Steelers defense proved that they could stop any kind of offense, a run first team like the San Diego Chargers, or a high flying passing offense like the Indianapolis Colts.

Pittsburgh simply has studs all over the defensive side of the ball, including the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, outside linebacker James Harrison.

Not to mention the best defensive mind in the National Football League today, Dick LeBeau, coaching them and constantly coming up with new looks and new blitzes.


2. Ben Roethlisberger

Is there any quarterback in the league that is as clutch as Big Ben is in the fourth quarter?

Alright, you can chalk some of that up to the defense keeping them in close games, but you have to give the man credit.

He is hands down the toughest quarterback in the league. With the size and mobility he possesses, he has all of the physical attributes to completely take over a game. The reason he doesn't is his decision making.

Sometimes you'll see him holding onto the ball too long, or forcing a pass that simply is not there.

At the end of the day though, no one in Pittsburgh expects Roethlisberger to put up stellar numbers, we just expect him to win the game. He does that by perfectly managing the game for us.

When he's healthy, I'd take him before all but a few quarterbacks.


3. Heath Miller, Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward

Holmes and Ward are a receiving duo that exhibits the perfect balance of speed, athleticism, body control, and field awareness.

Holmes has been under Ward's wing since 2006 and blossomed last year, eventually winning Super Bowl MVP.

Ward is getting older, and he was never the fastest receiver in the league, but his hands are nothing short of phenomenal and he always seems to get up with a smile on his face. That really irritates the defense.

That is not even mentioning his blocking ability, which is the best I have seen from a receiver in a long time, if ever.

Miller can both catch the ball, and protect the ball carrier. He's got above average speed for a tight end as well, and holds a Heinz Field reception record for longest reception.

He does not seem to get a lot of recognition, but that's what the Steelers are all about, the organization is blue collar from top to bottom.

4. Willie Parker

A shocker, I know. And I know, I may be going out on a limb on this one. But, assuming that he does not have an injury plagued season, I see him returning to old form. Or as much as he can after breaking his leg.

He showed everyone glimpses of "Fast Willie" in the playoffs this past year, and I am looking forward to seeing him as he used to be.


5. The AFC North

The only real threat to the Steelers in their division is the Baltimore Ravens. The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals are coming off seasons that I would classify as only pathetic.


6. Draft Success

From 2000, until this past draft, the Steelers have had only two first round selections not be a full time starter. Those two are Lawrence Timmons and Rashard Mendenhall. I will go out on a limb here and say that nearly all Steelers fans feel that Timmons should be starting over Larry Foote. 

Other names on this list include: Plaxico Burress (2000), Casey Hampton (2001), Kendall Simmons (2002), Troy Polamalu (2003), Roethlisberger (2004), Miller (2005), and Holmes (2006.)

As you can see, nearly all of these players are still starters for the Steelers this coming year.

I could trace the Steelers draft success back to the 1974 draft where they selected four Hall Of Fame players in five picks but that is another story for another day.