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Why The Steelers, and Not The Patriots, Are The Early Favorites In 2009

Old AccountSenior Writer IMay 19, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks on during Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The Giants defeated the Patriots 17-14.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The National Football League witnessed history in the 2008 season.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals to become the first franchise in the leagues history to win six Super Bowl Championships.

An accomplishment no one can say they have achieved, the Steelers fought through one of the toughest schedules in NFL history, including defeating the San Diego Chargers, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Arizona Cardinals to capture the trophy.

For years the Steelers have been known for the most dominant defense in the league, and have carried this tradition for decades.

In the playoffs, however, Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, and Santonio Holmes led the spark of offense the Steelers received when the defense couldn't make the stops in certain situations.

The Steelers entered the offseason with confidence, signing Hines Ward and James Harrison to contract extensions. Locking up both of these players will help continue their dominance for the next few seasons.

Pittsburgh was very quiet in the offseason, they made very few acquisitions and released line backer Lary Foote into the free agent pool.

There also wasn't much action taken place in the draft, with the Steelers trying to fill a few of their needs they have.

Their only weakness? The offensive line, which was once again very inconsistent throughout the season.

As the 2009 NFL season inches closer, with training camp soon beginning, the Steelers have to be the early favorite, don't they?

With everybody coming back, including a healthy Hines Ward and full strength Willie Parker, you must at least give them the edge, correct?

Try telling this to many of the football fans of the NFL, who believe that the New England Patriots are the early favorite this season.

Hold on a second; why are they the favorites?

The story of the Patriots is a rather interesting one in 2008.

In week one against the Kansas City Chiefs, Tom Brady, the centerpiece of the franchise, tears ligaments in his knee, resulting in the end of his season after not even playing a full half.

The world began to shock, stumble. The Patriot's dynasty to many was a lost cause, never again will we see a dynasty such as this one in New England.

Once again, more shock occurred, when Matt Cassel took the reigns of quarterback for the Pats, and finished with a Pro-Bowl caliber season.

Even though they were Bradyless, the team managed to finish 11-5, just a game short of a playoff birth.

During the season, Tom Brady did have the surgery, and at first, it was nerve racking.

It appeared to be that more issues with the knee occurred, and the odds of multiple surgeries seemed necessary.

With months of rehab, however, another surgery was not needed, and Brady hit the practice field in late winter.

At this point in time the league is currently in mini-camp mode, an unusual time for a player to use this opportunity as much as a player like Tom Brady does.

It seems it is going the Patriots way in the early going, and Mr. Brady will be ready for opening weekend.

People, just because we are going on the Patriots word that Brady will be ready to go, it means that we are just going to make them the favorite in the early going?

Sure, the entire structure of the team is coming back for another season, but the most important part is still in question.

Brady is most likely going to be comfortable through mini and training camp.

Yet, it is a completely different story from the games.

A rough start could occur for Brady in the early-going. How will his knee affect his play when having to play all four quarters at an exceptional speed?

To judge him based on success in camp does not mean anything, the public needs to see how he performs the entire game.

Remember, this is the knee, which will have to adjust to the multiple defensive ends and line backers coming his way.

Does this mean the Patriots have no shot at success this year? Of course not.

When and if the Patriots perform up to their expectations, they do deserve the credit they will receive.

However, it is the best bet to give the Steelers the reign as the early favorites to win it all.

A healthy quarterback, a top defense.

Until somebody knocks them off, you have to give the lead to the Super Bowl Champions.

Matt Miselis is a writer for BleacherReport.com

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