Year after year I can't help but notice that our Steelers appear to play their best when they are the undeniable underdog. They seem to find a way to play down to lesser opponents and then try to pull off a comeback. Yes, they've had a few of the "Blowout the Browns" games, but for the most part I've witnessed a lag when the Steelers are favored to win.
What does this mean and will we see it change?
Given that we have a schedule that bodes well for the Steelers, one could surmise that they would perform about the same as they have the past few years. 8-8, as they will pull off some of the comeback wins, but not all of them and they will beat some of the teams that are supposed to destroy them. How will we break the cycle?
Leadership leads the charge and I think having Joey Porter in the shouting section on the sidelines will help immeasurably. Joey is a beast and will not accept anything shy of destruction. The defense will be better.
This is also where experience can sometimes hurt a team. When you have experienced and very skilled players, they can assume too much. I recall watching the Chicago Bulls back in the early 90s. They could be down by 20 points at halftime, but have no doubt that they will win the game. This is easier to do in basketball, where total combined points are up around 200 per game, but in football it's completely different. One turnover can decide the winners and losers. Every snap counts. The youth injection has been much needed, and I think we will see a different team this year because of it. If not, then I'm afraid we'll be headed for 8-8 again.
What do you think? Will the Steelers finally stop playing down to their lower level opponents?