After a lockout that made everyone sick, frenzied free agency and a tumultuous offseason for the tightest ship run in the NFL, the Pittsburgh Steelers are ready to open 2011 with their first preseason game on Friday.
Admittedly, this is a different year. The Steelers are in that awkward category of "teams who still look great on paper but lost the Super Bowl" that in recent memory has led to disappointment for a vast majority of the club. But this year features a talented young corps of receivers for the newly married Ben Roethlisberger to throw to.
The defense may be old, but its AARP membership is still on old while Baltimore looks as if theirs is in the mail. The AFC North looks weak with the Bumbling Bungles, a lost Cleveland team that more than likely shipped its defensive success away with Bob Ryan to Dallas, and a Baltimore team that decided it will trust their offense to T.J. Wheres-My-Hands-menzada and Boldin rather than proven veteran Todd Heap.
I already made my incredibly optimistic predictions for the Steelers when the schedule was released, and I see no reason to change it. However, success in an NFL season requires as much luck as skill.
There are, however, things that will never change, and looking at 2011, here are the 11 things that are guaranteed about Steelers football that fans cannot wait to do any longer.