Note: This story is a continuation of a series I wrote on Greg's former site, PatriotsBlog.net. I reviewed the other three AFC East teams and predicted their order of finish. (Links: Jets, Dolphins, Bills)
I thought I would continue over the next few weeks with the rest of the Patriots opponents in 2010.
2009 record: 9-7, Did not make playoffs.
2009 record vs. Patriots: N/A
The Steelers offense took a huge hit in the offseason with Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension and the loss of Santonio Holmes to the Jets. In addition, receiver Limas Sweed is out for the season with an Achilles injury suffered in minicamp. This leaves receivers Hines Ward and Mike Wallace, tight end Heath Miller and running back Rashard Mendenhall to carry the load. Holmes production (79 catches, 1,248 yards, 5 TDs in 2009) will be missed on the field. Deep-threat Wallace will be asked to step up in his place. Miller and Ward remain steady sources of production, and Mendenhall (1,108 rushing yards, 7 TDs) has shown signs of being a reliable feature back. The Steelers have brought back a number of former players, including wide receiver Antwaan Randle El from
I doubt Roethlisberger will be suspended for more than the minimum four games, and those will come against Atlanta, Tennessee, Tampa Bay and Baltimore. The Steelers need to take at least one of those games if they hope to remain competitive in the division. They will likely lean heavily on Mendenhall and use their trademark pound-the-ball style while taking a shot deep every so often to keep defenses honest. When Big Ben returns it will be interesting to see if he still has the same swagger. His presence will allow for a more balanced attack, but
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is one of the best in the business. He has a deadly outside linebacker tandem in James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, and
The Steelers will be hoping they can return their defense to the dominant force it was for their Super Bowl-winning campaigns of 2005 and 2008. Their division is one of the toughest in the NFL, but
2010 Schedule: Atlanta, @Tennessee, @Tampa Bay, Baltimore, bye, Cleveland, @Miami, @New Orleans, @Cincinnati, New England, Oakland, @Buffalo, @Baltimore, Cincinnati,, Carolina, @Cleveland
2010 Record Prediction: 10-6 (second in AFC North)
Patriots Angle: The Patriots don’t come to Pittsburgh until the Sunday night game on November 14th, so they will probably face Roethlisberger. The Steelers will be coming off a tough divisional game in
One similarity between the Patriots and Steelers this offseason has been a focus on retaining players and bringing in veterans, some of which are returning after stints elsewhere. It seems both teams are concerned with locker room dynamics, and have parted ways with high profile players who were seen as disruptive. These are two of the best-run franchises in the NFL coming off disappointing seasons. Neither team is considered a clear-cut favorite to win their division, as the AFC North and AFC East have become much more competitive in the last few years. Both the Steelers and the Patriots will be looking to re-establish their trademark identities and playoff dominance in 2010.