After one of the most insane off seasons for any team in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one month away from training camp for the 2010 NFL season.
Though there are still questions as to what the Steelers are going to do on the offensive side of the ball, there is no question that the defense is at full strength.
They will have to be with the offensive losses of Ben Roethlisberger (4 games), Santonio Holmes (Traded to NY Jets) and Willie Colon (Injured Reserve).
But, as they say on Broadway, the show must go on.
Here is my evaluation of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2010 season.
Many of the "experts" are saying that the Steelers don't have very much of a shot at winning their opener against the Falcons. Here is why I disagree.
The Atlanta Falcons were ranked 21st in the NFL in total defense in 2009. Yes, they did bring in Dunta Robinson, but as most Texans fans would say, his best days are behind him.
Heinz Field, opening Sunday, plus crazy Steelers fans = a nightmare to play at if you are the away team.
I am not saying it won't be a great game, but the strength of the Falcons is going against the strength of the Steelers, and the Steelers strength is just that much better.
The Falcons will not be able to run the ball, and the Steelers will.
This is probably going to be the hardest game for anyone to predict at this point in time, simply because no one knows who exactly the Steelers are going to be playing.
Will Vince Young be suspended?
Will Chris Johnson show up?
Lets say, Young is not suspended, and Johnson does show up.
One constant with the Pittsburgh Steelers is that no one is going to run the football against them with much success.
In 2009, Ray Rice ran for over 100 yards on the Steelers, and he was the first person to achieve that milestone since 2007.
If the Titans are going to beat the Steelers, they are going to have to do so through the air. And, with Vince Young as the QB, that is not something that scares me.
The Titans are not the defensive power house they were only two years ago, and Rashard Mendenhall will have his second straight 125+ yard rushing game.
Every time I hear how the Steelers are going to start the 2010 season 0-4, I look at this game, and crack up.
Tampa Bay is starting two rookie receivers, and two rookie defensive tackles. They have a second year QB, who did not have a good rookie year.
Pittsburgh is going to manhandle the Bucs from the opening kick off, until they take a knee at the end of the game.
Tampa will finish the game with less than 150 total yards, and the running back combination of Mendenhall and Redman will total over 175 rushing yards.
Pittsburgh - 31
Tampa Bay - 0
Prior to the season, everyone is saying how, without Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers can not beat the Baltimore Ravens.
Yes, Big Ben will not be playing, but that does not mean the Ravens team from last year will be the same Ravens team the Steelers played last year.
Both of the Ravens starting corners from 2009 are recovering from ACL injuries, and Ed Reed said he is only 35% healed from off season surgery, that normally requires 12 months to recover from.
Similar to the Atlanta Falcons, this game is going to be the strength of the Ravens vs the strength of the Steelers.
OFFENSE vs DEFENSE
I still think that the Steelers defense is superior to the offense of the Ravens, and by the end of the game, the Steelers will complete the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger with a perfect 4-0 record.
Baltimore - 21
Pittsburgh - 24
The bye week is in the perfect week for the Steelers, and Ben Roethlisberger. He will have two weeks prior to his first game to get his timing down with his receivers.
Don't think just because Byron Leftwich led the Steelers to a 4-0 record, that there is a chance he is going to replace Roethlisberger.
This is Roethlisberger's team, and Leftwich is simply keeping the seat warm while Big Ben is out.
(On a side note, I originally searched the Getty Images with the title Cleveland Browns, and— HONESTLY, it brought up 5 pages of women's soccer.)
In Pittsburgh, Big Ben's first game back, with the defense on fire and Jake Delhomme as the starter for the Browns—this game is going to be UGLY.
Cleveland is not going to be shut out like the Bucs were, but they are going to realize exactly how far they really are from competing in the AFC North.
Ben Roethlisberger throws for over 350 yards against the infant Browns secondary, while the Steelers defense forces Jake Delhomme to throw 4 interceptions. This will be Delhomme's final straw in Cleveland.
Cleveland - 10
Pittsburgh - 35
This is one of the games I am most looking forward to. Not because I think the Dolphins are going to be a walk over, but because I am actually going to the game.
Miami is a team on the rise, and they are going to give the Steelers their best game of the year, to date.
Maimi is going to be a better team than advertised, but they are still not going to be able to handle the defense of the Steelers.
Though the game will be respectable, Pittsburgh pulls it out at the end with a late field goal.
Pittsburgh - 23
Miami - 21
This is one of the biggest games of the year for the NFL. Not simply because it is a match up between the last two Super Bowl Winners, but because it is the first time that the NFL will play a game at the same time as one of the World Series games.
This is going to be a great game, and it will be against the only two undefeated teams left in the NFL.
It will be Mardi-Gras all over again, as the Saints hand the Steelers their first defeat of the year. In a game that more than triples the ratings of the World Series, the Saints handle the Steelers in a close one.
Pittsburgh - 28
New Orleans - 31
Though many Bengals fans will disagree with me, the status of Cedric Benson is going to be the key to the success of the Bengals this year.
The Bengals are in the midst of one of their toughest years, as their impossible schedule will take a toll, and possibly dictate their season.
Though the Bengals are able to put some points on the board against the Steelers top ranked defense, the defense is just not able to keep the Steelers out of the end zone.
Pittsburgh - 28
Cincinnati - 24
As I stated in my "Why Your Team Won't Win The Super Bowl" series, I believe that this is the year that the Pats take a few steps back.
Tom Brady is getting old and their receivers (Moss and Holt) are as well. Wes Welker is not going to be fully recovered until the season is over.
The Pats defense is still suspect, and Ben Roethlisberger is going to have a field day against them.
New England - 13
Pittsburgh - 27
The Oakland Raiders return to Pittsburgh, and the Steelers are going to have an attitude about this game.
The Raiders are a much improved team from last year, and are moving their way up the AFC West rankings. I just don't think this is going to be their year to take over the Chargers.
The Raiders defense is solid, but their offense still has a way to go.
Oakland - 13
Pittsburgh - 21
There is only one thing look forward to with playing the Bills. Hopefully, there will be a blizzard and they will be playing in two feet of snow.
By this point of the season, the Bills are already going to be eliminated from the playoffs, and the Steelers will be battling for a playoff position.
The Bills don't have much of an offense, or much of a defense either. Maybe they can score on special teams, but the Steelers' special teams should be much improved as well.
This is not going to be a very close game, and the Steelers should walk away.
Pittsburgh - 27
Buffalo - 6
When Pittsburgh travels to Baltimore, the Ravens are going to be ready for the Steelers, even with Ben Roethlisberger leading the Black and Gold.
Almost every year, the Steelers and Ravens split their season series. Pittsburgh always wins in Pittsburgh, and Baltimore always wins in Baltimore.
Baltimore will establish the run against the Steelers, and the Ed Reed on the defense should be close to 100% by then.
Pittsburgh - 17
Baltimore - 20
Pittsburgh normally holds a strong home field advantage against most teams in the NFL. There is just something about the Bengals, in that they always play better in Pittsburgh.
The Bengals will be fighting for their playoff lives at this point, and they will hand the Steelers their first two game losing streak.
Bengals - 27
Pittsburgh - 17
With three games to play, and coming off a two game losing streak, the Steelers are in desperate need of a win.
With the Jets coming to town, it is going to take everything the Steelers have for the final stretch to the playoffs.
Pittsburghs offense is able to move the ball, while the Steel Curtain crashes down on Mark Sanchez and the Jets.
New York - 17
Pittsburgh - 23
Coming off their big win against the Jets, the Steelers host the now hapless Carolina Panthers.
John Fox, if not already fired, can read the writing on the wall that his career in Carolina only has two more games in it.
The Panthers defense has lost the best defensive player in their history, with Julius Peppers, and even with Peppers, the Panthers were still weak against the run.
Rashard Mendenhall rushes for 153 yards, while the Steelers hold the Panthers to less than 200 yards of total offense, keeping them off the score board for their second shut out of the season.
Carolina - 0
Pittsburgh - 24
(Seriously, I just searched Getty Images again, and again it brought up 5 pages of women's soccer. If I were a Browns fan, I would not be happy).
Week 17, the final game of the 2010 regular season.
Pittsburgh has already locked up the division title, and the Browns are playing to win their seventh game of the year.
Pittsburgh, not being able to improve their playoff standings, sit Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward, a couple of offensive linemen, a couple defensive linemen, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, and a couple line backers as well.
Which actually makes this a close game.
Cleveland runs the ball decent against the Steelers back ups, but still is incapable of stopping Dennis Dixon (who gets his second start of his career).
Dixon runs for 87 yards, and throws for 213, with two scores.
Pittsburgh - 21
Cleveland - 9
I have the Steelers finishing with a record of 13-3, winning the AFC North, and having one of the top two seeds in the NFL.
Why? The Steelers' defense will carry them.
Pittsburgh has one of the best defenses in the NFL. They will again be the top rated team against the run, and in the top three against the pass.
Many of the people think that because Ben Roethlisberger is suspended for the first four games of the season, that the Steelers are in trouble.
In their first four games, they have games at home against the Falcons and Ravens, while their away games are against the Titans, and the Buccaneers.
There have been times in the last decade or so, that a team has had a horrible offense (2000 Ravens and 2002 Buccaneers), and because of a great defense, they were able to win the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh was ranked seventh in the NFL in offense last year, and just because Ben Roethlisberger is going to miss four games, that does not mean that the rest of the team is going to fall apart.
Honestly though, it is better for the Steelers that everyone outside of Steelers Nation thinks they are going to be terrible. Pittsburgh plays better when they have a chip on their collective shoulder, and the chip right now is around the size of the Century III Mall.