Pittsburgh Steelers Guide To 2009: Stairway To Seven, Super Bowl XLIV

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Pittsburgh Steelers Guide To 2009: Stairway To Seven, Super Bowl XLIV
(Photo by NFL Photos)

2009 Pittsburgh Steelers Schedule

Thursday, Sept. 10 vs. Titans 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Sept 20 @ Bears 4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Sept. 27 @ Bengals 4:15 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 4 vs. Chargers 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Oct. 11 @ Lions 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 18 vs. Browns 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 25 vs. Vikings 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sunday, Nov. 1 BYE
Monday, Nov. 9 @ Broncos 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Nov. 15 vs. Bengals 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Nov. 22 @ Chiefs * 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Nov. 29 @ Ravens * 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 6 vs. Raiders * 1 p.m. (CBS)
Thursday, Dec. 10 @ Browns 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network)
Sunday, Dec. 20 vs. Packers * 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sunday, Dec. 27 vs. Ravens * 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Jan. 3 @ Dolphins * 1 p.m. (CBS)

* Flexible Scheduling

** All Times Eastern

Schedule Analysis

As I mentioned in my last post, the Steelers have two hidden Bye Weeks. The hidden Bye Weeks follow after these games: Thursday, Sept. 10 vs. Titans 8:30 p.m. (NBC), Thursday, Dec. 10 @ Browns 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network).

The first hidden Bye Week is more legitimate than the second, due to the expense of a shortened week by this game: Thursday, Dec. 10 @ Browns 8:20 p.m. (NFL Network), though every fan of Steeler Nation knows that the Cleveland Browns have a good while before they figure out how to beat the Steelers.

On the schedule, the Steelers have two 8:30 games on (NBC & ESPN), three 8:20 games on (NBC & NFL Network), two 4:15 games on (CBS), and nine 1:00 games on (CBS & FOX).

There are six teams on the schedule that I believe will give the Steelers a run for their money.

They are as follows:

Tennessee Titans - Last year they defeated the Steelers at LP Field 31-14. This year their biggest loss was DT Albert Haynesworth to the Washington Redskins. Though I don't believe that would make them any less of a threat, they still field a decent defense. Then again, as of late, the Steelers players regard the Terrible Towel like Steeler Nation does, using the stunt that the Titans players pulled with the Terrible Towel as motivation to give the Titans what they have coming to them.

Chicago Bears - Last time the Steelers played the Bears was in the 2005 season. The Steelers defeated the running HB Jerome Bettis up the gut. Since then, the Bears traded QB Kyle Orton to the Denver Broncos for QB Jay Cutler, giving them a reliable quarterback they haven't had in a good while. Still I believe that the Steelers defense will stuff them like a turkey on Thanksgiving Day.

San Diego Chargers - The Steelers played the Chargers twice last year, defeating them in the regular season with lowest point swing in the annals of football play at 11-10, and in the post season with a bone chilling crush at Heinz Field 35-24. Even still, the Chargers are no push-over with LaDainian Tomlinson and Shawne Merriman returning from injury plagued seasons in 2008. But I believe the Steelers will strike lightening three times in the same places for the win.

Minnesota Vikings - Yes! Yes! I know QB Brett Favre is still learning how to stay retired at the University of Retirement. So, the Vikings were successful signing Brett out of retirement, with the hopes of a rematch of Super Bowl IX. With Favre at the helm anything can happen, which makes the Vikings a suitable contender. Though I think James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley will give him a dose of retirement medicine, helping the Steelers clobber the Vikings.

Green Bay Packers - After Brett Favre retired the first time, at the beginning of the 2008, the Green Bay Packers promoted QB Aaron Rogers as their franchise gun slinger. Even though Rogers is no Favre, he still is no push-over. The Packers also revamped their defense to a 3-4, drafting NT B.J. Raji to anchor it. Time will tell if their 3-4 defense will stand up to the Steelers 3-4 defense. The Steelers still have the edge to win this game.

Baltimore Ravens - Last season the Ravens and the Steelers had three games of slug-fests, with the Steelers throwing the hardest punch en-route Super Bowl XLIII with three wins. Now the Ravens lost their defensive coordinator Rex Ryan to become the Jets Head Coach, bringing along with him LB Bart Scott and S Jim Leonard. The Ravens will still put up a fight with the Steelers, leaving me to believe the series will be knotted up at 1-1.

The rest of the teams the Steelers play are pretty much cake walks, though there are three teams that I think are sleepers, meaning they could beat the Steelers if they rest on their laurels. Then again I don't see coach Mike Tomlin allowing that to happen. I will not go into details with these teams.

Sleeper teams as follows:

Cincinnati Bengals

Oakland Raiders

Miami Dolphins

 

Steelers 2009 Team Roster

No

Name

Pos

Hgt

Wt

Birthday

Exp

College

55

Bailey, Patrick

LOLB

6-4

235

11/19/85

2

Duke

16

Batch, Charlie

QB

6-2

216

12/5/74

12

Eastern Michigan

27

Burnett, Joe

CB

5-9

192

11/28/86

R

Central Florida

23

Carter, Tyrone

SS

5-9

195

3/31/76

10

Minnesota

25

Clark, Ryan

FS

5-11

205

10/12/79

8

Louisiana State

74

Colon, Willie

RT

6-3

315

4/9/83

4

Hofstra

02

Dixon, Dennis

QB

6-3

195

1/11/85

2

Oregon

93

Eason, Nick

RDE

6-3

305

5/29/80

7

Clemson

79

Essex, Trai

RG

6-4

324

12/5/82

5

Northwestern

51

Farrior, James

LILB

6-2

243

1/6/75

13

Virginia

73

Foster, Ramon

OT

6-6

325

1/7/86

R

Tennessee

57

Fox, Keyaron

LILB

6-3

235

1/23/82

6

Georgia Tech

54

Frazier, Andre

ROLB

6-5

245

6/29/82

5

Cincinnati

22

Gay, William

LCB

5-10

190

1/1/85

3

Louisville

98

Hampton, Casey

NT

6-1

325

9/3/77

9

Texas

97

Harrison, Arnold

LOLB

6-3

241

9/20/82

4

Georgia

92

Harrison, James

ROLB

6-0

242

5/4/78

6

Kent State

62

Hartwig, Justin

C

6-4

312

11/21/78

8

Kansas

66

Hills, Tony

LT

6-5

304

11/4/84

2

Texas

76

Hoke, Chris

NT

6-2

305

4/6/76

9

Brigham Young

10

Holmes, Santonio

WR

5-11

192

3/3/84

4

Ohio State

96

Hood, Ziggy

DE

6-3

300

2/16/87

R

Missouri

85

Johnson, David

TE

6-2

260

8/26/87

R

Arkansas State

99

Keisel, Brett

RDE

6-5

285

9/19/78

8

Brigham Young

68

Kemoeatu, Chris

LG

6-3

344

1/4/83

5

Utah

90

Kirschke, Travis

LDE

6-3

298

9/6/74

13

UCLA

64

Legursky, Doug

C

6-1

315

6/9/86

1

Marshall

20

Lewis, Keenan

CB

6-0

208

5/17/86

R

Oregon State

11

Logan, Stefan

WR

5-7

185

6/2/81

1

South Dakota

87

McDonald, Shaun

WR

5-10

183

6/30/81

7

Arizona State

34

Mendenhall, Rashard

RB

5-10

225

6/19/87

2

Illinois

83

Miller, Heath

TE

6-5

256

10/22/82

5

Virginia

21

Moore, Mewelde

RB

5-11

209

7/24/82

6

Tulane

29

Mundy, Ryan

S

6-1

215

2/11/85

1

West Virginia

39

Parker, Willie

RB

5-10

209

11/11/80

6

North Carolina

43

Polamalu, Troy

SS

5-10

207

4/19/81

7

Southern California

31

Ratliff, Keiwan

CB

5-11

188

4/19/81

6

Florida

03

Reed, Jeff

PK

5-11

225

4/9/79

8

North Carolina

07

Roethlisberger, Ben

QB

6-5

241

3/2/82

6

Miami (Ohio)

09

Sepulveda, Daniel

P

6-3

230

1/12/84

3

Baylor

91

Smith, Aaron

LDE

6-5

298

4/9/76

11

Northern Colorado

89

Spaeth, Matt

TE

6-7

270

11/24/84

3

Minnesota

78

Starks, Max

LT

6-8

345

1/10/82

6

Florida

44

Summers, Frank

FB

5-10

230

9/6/85

R

UNLV

14

Sweed, Limas

WR

6-4

220

12/25/84

2

Texas

24

Taylor, Ike

RCB

6-2

195

5/5/80

7

La.-Lafayette

94

Timmons, Lawrence

RILB

6-1

234

5/14/86

3

Florida State

26

Townsend, Deshea

LCB

5-10

190

9/8/75

12

Alabama

65

Urbik, Kraig

G

6-5

323

9/23/85

R

Wisconsin

17

Wallace, Mike

WR

6-0

199

8/1/86

R

Mississippi

86

Ward, Hines

WR

6-0

205

3/8/76

12

Georgia

60

Warren, Greg

LS

6-3

252

10/18/81

5

North Carolina

56

Woodley, LaMarr

LOLB

6-2

265

11/3/84

3

Michigan

Reserve/Injured

49

McHugh, Sean

TE

6-5

265

5/27/82

6

Penn State

72

Stapleton, Darnell

RG

6-3

305

9/21/85

3

Rutgers

Note: Steelers.com had some position typos so I corrected them.

Roster Analysis

The Steelers have:

6 – Wide Receivers with Stefan Logan as a multi-purpose return specialist and Limas Sweed, Mike Wallace, and Shaun McDonald duking it out for the third WR spot.

3 – Quarterbacks with Charlie Batch returning as the back up to Big Ben Roethlisberger.

8 – Linebackers with Andre Frazier and Arnold Harrison joining the group.

7 – Defensive Linemen with rookie Ziggy Hood joining the group.

9 – Offensive Linemen with rookies Kraig Urbik & Ramon Foster, first year guy Doug Legursky, and second year guy Tony Hills joining the group.

3 – Tight Ends with David Johnson joining the crew.

10 – Defensive Backs with rookies Joe Burnett & Keenan Lewis, FA Keiwan Ratliff, and first year guy Ryan Mundy joining the pack.

3 – Running Backs with Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall returning from an injury plagued 2008 season.

1 – Fullback with rookie Frank Summers replacing Carey Davis.

3 – Specialists with LS Greg Warren, P Daniel Sepulveda, and PK Jeff Reed.

The practice squad is yet to be determined. A.Q. Shipley, Sonny Harris, and Issac Redman may be put on the practice squad if they clear waivers.

Summary

Now that I went through the schedule and roster, it's time to get down to brass taxes. We all know the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII 27-23 against the Cardinals. However, now it is time for the Steelers to start anew and climb the “Stairway to Seven” Super Bowl XLIV.

In order for the Steelers to make the climb to the Super Bowl again, Head Coach Mike Tomlin will keep a keen eye on the players, to make sure that they don't rest on their laurels falling into complacency. The first order is for the offensive line to liberally work hard gelling together to protect Ben Roethlisberger from getting sacked 47 times.

The fairly new wide receivers need to step up and pull their weight, the running backs need to run crisp and find the holes to pick up the running game.

The defense is the defense, and Coach (Dad) Dick LeBeau has that squared away.

Special teams will be upgraded with Daniel Sepulveda back for his mountain high punts, and the addition of Stefan Logan will help give the Steelers great field position, something that they haven't had since Antwan Randle El left in 2006.

I'd have to say in full honesty, that the Steelers are primed and loaded to climb the “Stairway to Seven” and reach Super Bowl XLIV. Hopefully they will get there, and show that nothing stands in their way but themselves.

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