Steelers Have Tough Act To Follow in 2009

Dan HackettContributor IMay 8, 2009

PITTSBURGH - FEBRUARY 03:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers shows off the Super Bowl XLIII trophy during a parade on February 3, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Coming into the 2008 season, few had high expectations for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Faced with the toughest schedule in the NFL based on opponents' winning percentage the previous year, no one in the Steelers nation expected them to do as well as they did.

Somehow, the Steelers were left holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy. They beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Super Bowl XLIII on a last-minute catch by Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes.

The 2009 season presents a new set of challenges for the defending Super Bowl champions. Let's take a look and see the obstacles they must surmount if they want to end up in Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.

Week 1: Thursday, Sept. 10 vs. Tennessee Titans (NBC, 8:30 p.m.)

The Steelers open up the ’09 campaign with a rematch of their AFC Divisional playoff game against the Tennessee Titans. I expect two things from this game: a rowdy Heinz Field crowd ready to boo LenDale White for his stomping of the Terrible Towel, and a Steelers win.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20 at Chicago Bears (CBS, 4:15 p.m.)

This game gives Steelers fans a chance to see Jay Cutler for the first time since his acrimonious split with the Denver Broncos this off season.

The contest should present a challenge for the Steelers as the Bears loaded up on talent at the wide receiver position this off season. Chicago drafted Oklahoma speedster Juaquin Iglesias along with Pittsburgh wideout Derek Kinder.

I expect this game to be closer than people would believe, especially because the Bears defense still has the best linebacker in the game in Brian Urlacher.


Later in the Season

I'm really looking forward to the Week 15 match-up with the Green Bay Packers. This will be the first chance for many Steelers fans to see Packers QB Aaron Rodgers up close and personal. I expect this to be a very good late-season match-up with playoff implications for both teams. 

All in all, I expect the Steelers to once again win the AFC North and make the playoffs, although what they do from there is anybody's guess.