By Derek Lofland.
A popular preseason topic is always going to focus on the ability of the defending NFL champions to repeat. Since 1990, when the NFL expanded to its 12-team playoff format, Super Bowl Champions have a good history of making the playoffs the following year.
The following teams are the only ones since 1990 that did not qualify for the playoffs the year after winning the Lombardi Trophy.
1) 1991 New York Giants (8-8)
2) 2002 New England Patriots (9-7)
3) 2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
4) 2006 Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Once in the playoffs though, defending Super Bowl champions have not had a lot of success. Only four Super Bowl champions made it back to the Super Bowl the year after winning it. They are as follows:
1) 1992-1993 Dallas Cowboys
2) 1996-1997 Green Bay Packers*
3) 1997-1998 Denver Broncos
4) 2003-2004 New England Patriots
* Won in 1996, but lost in 1997
What do the Steelers have to do to make sure their fanbase is salivating at the opportunity to go seven-for-seven in the Super Bowl? Here are a few factors to look for:
1) The Steelers Defense must stay No. 1 – The biggest advantage the Steelers have over every other team in the NFL is their dominant defense.
In 2008, they allowed the fewest points in the NFL (223), the fewest yards in the NFL (237.2), the fewest passing yards (156.9) and the second fewest rushing yards (80.2). They were also tied for first in rushing yards per attempt (3.3), first in passing yards per attempt allowed (5.4), second in quarterback sacks (51), second in QB rating allowed (63.4), tied for second in rushing touchdowns allowed (7) and tied for second in passing touchdowns allowed (12). They were at the top of the NFL in almost any meaningful statistical category...