Right now, the Bengals and Jets are the media darlings, or the flavors of the week. Sportswriters are getting horny for the unstoppable T.O./Ocho love fest. "How will teams prepare?" says ESPN. How could any team deal with Batman and Robin? We all know that the Super Bowl is not won in the preseason. I can assure you the sky is not falling. First, Ike's got Ocho's number...and it ain't 85, heck it's not even 8. Ike has been pretty consistent at making Ocho a non-factor. Ocho Stinko hasn't dropped a 100 yard game on us since 2003. More importantly, he's only scored 3 touchdowns on us EVER in 18 games. Owens is old, and not "as good as he once was" (to quote Toby Keith). Bryant is coming off knee surgery, and has never been consistent. Secondly, it's the Bungals! Surely a few players will probably get suspended. I say that in jest, but it's been a common theme amongst the team over the years. It's always possible. Thirdly, their defense isn't as good as advertised. Roy Williams (the safety) seemingly had a good season, but was a liability to the Cowboys for two years prior to that. I doubt he will replicate that "success" this season. The Browns are terrible, the Ravens were beat up, and the Steelers ran out of gas. These 3 teams made Cincy's "D" look good, and attributed for 6 of their wins. The Jets showed the Bengals that they were who WE thought they were...a bunch of bums who got lucky at our misfortunes. Now, that's not to say that they aren't legitimate, because they are, but I just don't think they can win the division 2 years in a row. They seem to have trouble handling success.
Now, on to the Ravens.
Adding Boldin was a "bold" move (get it). It gives the Ravens the best WR they have ever had..no disrespect to Mason. Boldin is a tough, athletic WR, who is not afraid to go across the middle or throw a block on a 300 pounder. I'd say he's the toughest WR in the league, but he's not, that would be our own Hines Ward. Flacco is coming into his own, Ray Rice is ridiculous, and the Ravens front 7 is as dangerous as ever. However, insanely awesome safety Ed Reed is having some injury woes, and starting corner Dominque Foxworth is now out for the season. The Ravens now have problems in the secondary, which is a major concern in a pass-happy league.
There isn't much to say about the Browns except they had to have gotten better. I don't want to see another multiple sack game from them, so hopefully, the Steelers did too.
Ultimately, the Steelers have to overcome their own problems to be successful. Ben's gone for 4-6 games (which is still in limbo...c'mon Goddell!). Colon is out for the season. Holmes is gone. Gay was a liability. Most importantly, the Steelers seem to have a defense that "ran out of gas" at the end of the game. How has this problem been addressed?
I think the first issue here is: are Leftwich, Dixon, and Batch good enough to get us through 4-6 games? These guys can't do what Ben can. If we can run the ball efficiently and our defense plays as tight as it's capable, then surely, these guys can get the job done.
We already had a line considered to be pretty bad entering the season, and losing Colon didn't help. However, Pouncey should be a major upgrade on the interior, and the signing of Flozell the Hotel could be enough to be at least as good as we were last year.
Holmes is gone, but even if he stayed, he would have been no good to us for 4 games anyway. Then, he would have been a free agent and left at the end of the season anyway. If Wallace has a quick learning curve, it might not be too big of a drop-off. He showed us his skills last year, but he's not the #3 WR anymore, so the pressure is on him to perform.
Essentially, we traded Holmes and got Bryant McFadden back. Gay got burned, and he didn't have much help behind him with Troy out of the lineup. The Steelers now have 3 young CBs fighting for roster spots, and picked up Will Allen, who has to be an upgrade over Ty Carter. Overall, the unit should be better.
As far as the D running out of gas.....rumors of the Steel Curtain's demise have been exaggerated. Ok, Farrior looked bad midway through the season. The secondary was pretty bad without Troy. However, Hood is ready to roll. He can spell Smith and Keisel to keep them fresh. We have reloaded our LB corps. Welcome back Larry Foote, give Mr. Farrior a break. Worlids...all eyes are on you, rookie. Really, the only position that didn't get any younger was the D-Line.
Overall, there is a lot of adversity to overcome, but there are some positives to all the negatives that happened during the offseason. Here's hoping for Super Bowl #7.