The 2009 preseason is drawing near. The anticipation for the upcoming season is growing by the minute. The draft is over, free-agency has taken its toll, and now its time to get down to business.
When the schedule was released, I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. The Steelers have a soft schedule. Under normal circumstances, I would say this is an easy 14-2 or maybe even another 15-1 season.
However, my memories bring me back to the 8-8 season collapse we had after Superbowl XL. "The hangover," as I have heard it called numerous times.
Are the Steelers more experienced and beyond this Superbowl hangover? I don't know. What I do know is that they better bring their A-Game this season because Baltimore is definitely going to bring theirs, and Baltimore is our only challenge in the AFC North.
Sweed can easily replace Washington, Gay can easily replace McFadden, and Smith is getting old and it seems like it is getting harder and harder to keep him healthy.
Just recently the Steelers released Larry Foote, at his own request. He just signed with the Lions. Again no big loss, Timmons can easily replace him in the middle.
But with those losses we also made some very nice gains. Frank "the Tank" Summers, Ziggy Hood, Mendenhall is back, a possibly decent CB in Keiwan Ratliff.
The Steelers have a knack for keeping depth at all positions and not wasting money on free agent moves. They have a mantra of get them and train them young. Rookies are better learners of the Steelers system than any veteran.
The Steelers will have a good season as long as the following things happen.
1. Sweed has a good training camp, realizes he is the new No. 3, and that dropped passes and whining will not be tolerated as a lead receiver.
2. The offensive line decides to play as they did in the playoffs, protect Roethlisberger and open holes for Mendenhall, Parker, and the Tank.
3. Ben can stay healthy for the entire season and manage to stay off the turf.
The defense is still going to be the best, assuming the Madden curse skips over Troy and goes after Fitzgerald instead.
My official prediction is 14-2. Dropping one loss to the Ravens and one loss to the Dolphins in the final game.