11-5. That’s my prediction for this regular season. Which doesn’t surprise anyone who has known me over the years. It’s my prediction every season. I’ve been doing it for decades. Truth be told, I’m rarely far off. No one, I suspect, predicted 15-1 heading into Ben Roethlisberger’s rookie campaign. Since that time, over the past 13 seasons I’ve been off more than one game just five times.
As Steeler fans we’ve grown accustomed to winning. Since Big Ben’s arrival the Steelers have had exactly zero losing seasons. Of the four seasons that Pittsburgh didn’t make the playoffs, two of them the Steelers were in the running in Week 17. All of which may explain why every year the anticipation of the start of the new season is so intense.
Imagine you were born and raised in Cleveland. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. It’s just imagination. How excited would you be about a new season? What if this year’s goal was not a Lombardi, not making the playoffs, not a winning season, but winning a game? It’s tough to get all wound up when you are confident you’re going to be let down. Especially when said confidence is grounded in history.
Every off-season I find myself counting down the weeks until the season begins. I’m grateful for the combine, the draft, even OTAs, like the smell of something cooking that’s not quite done. But just like the standard is the standard, the season is the season. We all have entered each one in our memories, going back to 1972, with at least a shot at making the playoffs, if not being a serious Super Bowl contender.
I’ve read, and I get the complaints. We’re consistently not quite the best. Since the glory days multiple teams have more championships than we do. The Patriots. But I don’t buy it. It is a great thing to know, year in and year out, that we are just playing for show, but are playing for The Show.
11-5 will likely put us in the middle of the pack come the playoffs. A little better and we have a shot at a bye and home field. A little worse and we’ll have to march through the playoffs like we did the 2005 season. It’s going to be a good season. It may be one of the all-time greats. It’s a good thing to expect excellence. It’s a bad thing to take it for granted. I’m grateful to have been born in what I believe is the greatest city in the world. I’m grateful to be a part of the greatest team in the world. Coming soon- another memorable season.