Why the Pittsburgh Steelers Will Repeat in the AFC

Greg RiotAnalyst IJune 24, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 31:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is sacked during the NFL game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 31, 2004 in Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania.    (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Am I really ready to forecast a Super Bowl Champion in the middle of the summer? You’re damn right I am!

With the Steelers kicking off the 2009 NFL betting season against the Arizona Cardinals in a Super Bowl rematch, there is plenty to get excited about if you’re a Pittsburgh betting man.

Read on to see why you should be betting boat loads in our NFL futures on the Steelers to repeat in the AFC.

The Steelers had the best defense in the league overall, allowing just 237.2 yards per game, and just 13.9 points per game. Leading the way was my Super Bowl MVP, James Harrison, who spearheaded the smash-mouthed, Steel Curtain style defense that we’ve known in Pittsburgh.

Many thought that the departure of Joey Porter would see a softer Steelers defense, but the early reports of the demise appear to be false on many fronts. Pittsburgh will receive the full complement of its starters back next year, and will also see improved backups with the stock they brought in through the 2008 NFL Draft.

So, while the defense will continue to build on the tremendous success of last year, the offense will do the very same. Ben Roethlisberger was one of the best quarterbacks last season, with just 21.7 points per game last season and a quarterback rating of 80.1.

While those numbers won’t jump out at you, the emergence of Santonio Holmes, the steadiness of Heath Miller and Hines Ward and the return of a full-steam Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall will revitalize an offense that appeared stagnant at time and relied on the defense to score too many times.

Who stands as the main competition to Pittsburgh? In the AFC, it’s clearly the New England Patriots, who will thoroughly enjoy the return of Tom Brady.

However, with Brady’s marriage, a new baby on the way, and a knee that will terrify New England’s betting detractors every time Brady’s sacked, I’m not so sure Pretty Boy is ready to play at the same level that made him one of the best quarterbacks ever.

The Patriots are the favorites to win the AFC at +350, while Pittsburgh is closely behind at +450.

So, with the Patriots as the only viable threat to Pittsburgh, why am I taking Pittsburgh? I believe in Mike Tomlin, and I thoroughly support Ben Roethlisberger. Combined, they form a leadership corps that can weather any front. This team will be unified from last year’s glorious run to the top of the mountain.

San Diego is a mess. Baltimore has a sophomore slumper at the quarterback position. Indianapolis is falling to pieces with Peyton getting older, Harrison retiring and Addai getting arthroscopic knee surgery already. Nobody else even warrants a mention in the AFC title picture.

So many questions abound for every team, including the Patriots and Tom Brady’s knee. That’s why the Pittsburgh Steelers will prevail. No team shows more determination in the face of such confusion.

When the curtain drops on the NFL season, it will close with another Steel Curtain in 2010 at Superbowl XLIV.