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A lot of people are down on the Steelers this year.
But since Troy Polamalu is healthy, they're definitely a Super Bowl contender.
Ben Roethlisberger could miss the possible six games and they'll still be a Super Bowl contender, as long as Polamalu remains healthy. They have some work to do along the offensive line, but they should have better cohesion and chemistry with time.
And Roethlisberger is set to return at some point this season, with a Super Bowl-winning track record and wanting to prove he has learned and improved as a quarterback and man. With the improving Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace on offense, and a defense full of Pro Bowlers and Dick LeBeau mind juice, and the Steelers can win in the playoffs.
Again, Polamalu is healthy.
However, the preseason choice to win the division should still be the Baltimore Ravens.
Adding Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth to the receiving corps will no doubt help Joe Flacco, who was already showing the potential of an elite quarterback. The bread-and-butter of the offense will still be their running game and Ray Rice though. The Ravens defense looked to have taken a step back last season, but Ed Reed will return with fresh legs, and that alone will be a boon. Young players like Lardarius Webb, Paul Kruger, Lamar Divens, and Jameel McClain will improve and give the mountain Haloti Ngata and the ageless Ray Lewis the help they need.
The Ravens are on many pundits' short lists of Super Bowl favorites this season, and rightfully so.
Funny thing is, the Cincinnati Bengals are the defending division champion, and they could very well win the division again. Receiving additions Terrell Owens, Jermaine Gresham, and Jordan Shipley will augment Chad Ochocinco and Andre Caldwell's production, giving Carson Palmer the weapons needed to succeed. If Palmer is able to spread the ball around and find the open man, and if Cedric Benson keeps on truckin', their offense should be vastly improved.
This Bengals team can win with their defense too. Featuring one of the best corner tandems in the league (Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall), a gifted linebacking corps, and sack-demon Antwan Odom coming back from injury, the Bengals defense also might be better this season.
Cincinnati is a team capable of ruining a lot of preseason predictions and they should not be overlooked.
The Cleveland Browns might not ruin a lot of predictions as they will assuredly finish in last place, but they should not be overlooked either.
Cleveland gets by on offense thanks to a very good offensive line. Their playmakers are very green, but if Jerome Harrison can continue to play like he ended last season, they should be alright. For all his faults, Jake Delhomme is a better option than they had last season. The defense is revamped and Josh Cribbs can score a touchdown any time he touches the ball. They will upset more than one of the favorites in this division.
The Super Bowl aspirations of the Steelers and the Ravens, and the possibility the Bengals could beat them both for the division title, give them the nod over the AFC East as the AFC's best division. However, the Browns prevent them from getting the top spot.