WHO LOVES BEING A STEELERS FAN?
Like most Steelers fans, I have this everlasting notion that my football team will never lose a football game again. However, the course of a season presents its natural obstacles, and being undefeated rarely lasts through September.
On paper, this team will be favored over its opponents for most weeks of the season. Objectively, a Pittsburgh victory could be argued from the data going into any of these games, machines crunching the attributes of our roster and spitting out victories, almost as though the game were played on an empty Scantron scorecard.
Yet, we all know an undefeated season isn't going to happen, because all games have the human factor and, most importantly, the margin between winning and losing is slim. This list is a challenge in that way, tempering the elitist subjectivity that comes with rooting for a team with six Lombardi Trophies with the reality of some inevitable losses are going to happen.
Every April, two things are certain: taxes will be due and the NFL schedule will be dissected by fans eager to catch their first glimpses of what the new season will deliver. Steelers fans are no different; in fact, our eagerness is only catalyzed by the team's constant success in the Super Bowl era.
Predicting games from week to week is a fool's errand, so attempting to persuade judgments regarding an entire schedule is perfectly irrational.
Let's be honest: how many people had the Kansas City Chiefs winning the AFC West in 2010 that didn't live in Missouri or bleed red? Errrr.....scratch that last part! But you get the point!
In 2009, the Steelers' roster was loaded and they were the defending Super Bowl Champions. A win in Kansas City, as an example, was assured by "experts." Yet, injuries mounted, the regular irregularities of NFL play occurred, and the predictable lack of predictability bit the Steelers, who lost in Arrowhead to an anemic Chiefs squad.
In other words, things just happen for no better reason than "something's gotta," as our words during each new off-season stand in stark contrast to a year earlier.
But, even if for nothing more than the love of the game, prognosticators put on their premature thinking caps and make their irrational, soon to be rendered irrelevant predictions.
Count me in!
This season, with no distinguishable off-season activities through at least June, promises to be worse than usual, as the roster of every team will take on a Mt. Rushmore-sized face lift. The standard six months of the athletic nomad will be reduced to only the chaos of a few frantic days leading up to kickoff.
Yet, that's the beauty of it!
In fact, if what we know about the NFL stays consistent, that will be a terrible sign. No changes definitively means no season, and no season means a lot of irrelevant predictions by every schedule scavenger.
The wonderful element of the NFL is that change gives every season its own unique identity.
Enthusiasts blur those seasons together. An example could be a fan knowing that the 70's were great and the 80's were tougher for Steelers fans.
Fans, on the other hand, know the stories of the seasons like the names of their children.
1989? Noll's last real hurrah!
1992? Cowher Power is born!
1997? Slash leads the Steelers on an improbable run!
1976? The greatest defensive run in history falls just short.
2005? Redemption and "One for the Thumb!"
As A Steelers fan, I see every season as the newest chapter of a remarkable journey, filled with highs and lows, peaks and valleys, rife with heroes and antagonists, and timeless entertainment. The 2011 identity will be forged into this tale of a blue collar city and their Men of Steel.
Will the chapter of 2011 be "Seven Heaven?"
Or will the season serve as the support for last year's installment of "Pack Attack?"
No matter the outcome, the Steelers appear poised to return a formidable line-up. If they're able to maintain their health in balance with experience gained, the sky is truly the limit.
With my premature prognostication cap fitting snugly, I'll attempt to predict the winner of every Steelers game for the coming year, including a few extra premonitions to really cook the crow before I eat it.
It's fine, so long as I don't have to eat Raven.
Sadly, there's little frame of reference for this task. Recent history shows great team success following a losing season, and disappointment following Super Bowl victories.
Since Ben took over at quarterback, losing the Super Bowl has, proudly, been a foreign commodity.
With no barometer to reference, I will attempt to get my finger on the pulse of the proud Pittsburgh franchise.