It's about time that we switch focus to the Steelers. The Pens run was fun, but, it's over, thank God. The NFL season is the best time of the year: pickem leagues, survivor leagues, fantasy football teams, and above all, gambling. So for all of you football fans, here we go.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers - The Super Bowl hangover after '05 won't happen this time around. Tomlin is simply a better coach than Carolina's own Bill Cowher. Motivation will certainly be there week one against the Titans after Tennessee stomped on the Terrible Towel last year. Will the Steelers have a moment of silence for Steve McNair? If they do, will Jeff Fisher pull a Dick Vermeil and totally lose control of his team?
2. New England Patriots - Tom Brady had one season with Randy Moss and Wes Welker, and the Patriots went 16-0. How healthy will Tom Brady be? If he is ok, it certainly looks like another Pittsburgh New England AFC Championship Game.
3. San Diego Chargers - LT might be slowing down, but the Chargers still have the best skill-set of players in the NFL. Expect their defense to be greatly improved, Merriman and Cromartie should be a lot healthier in '09. Their division is such a cakewalk as well.
4. New York Giants - When you have a great running game, solid defense, and star quarterback, you can win games in this league. The loss of P. Burress will probably be big, but I still like the Giants in the NFC over more "sexy" teams like Philly and Arizona.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Speaking of the Cardinals. They are still solid, and I really like the Bryant McFadden addition, but does anyone really think Kurt Warner is going to have another great year.
6. Dallas Cowboys - I like Dallas more than most this year. They should be better and more focused without TO. If they just run the ball with those backs and play solid defense, they will probably win their first playoff game in over a decade.
7. Philadelphia Eagles - Their offense looks stacked after drafting Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy, but does anyone ever trust Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid. The NFC East looks stacked again.
8. Minnesota Vikings - A QB away from Super Bowl contention. It seems like we say it every year, but Brett Favre is not the answer.
9. Indianapolis Colts - Certainly on the decline, and they have a major coaching transition. But they also still have Peyton Manning.
10. Washington Redskins - Nobody is talking about the Skins but you got to love Clinton Portis, and I think Jason Campbell is underrated. Plus they added Haynesworth.
11. Tennessee Titans - Washington took Fat Albert away from these Titans. Still solid along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, but expect Kerry Collins to regress to the mean. They are definitely not going to get 13 wins again.
12. Carolina Panthers - Run the ball and play defense. Do that and you can win games, even if your quarterback is terrible.
13. Atlanta Falcons - An up-and-rising team that will probably fall short of some lofty expectations this year.
14. Baltimore Ravens - Joe Flacco is a star in waiting, but has Baltimore ever had back-to-back great seasons?
15. Green Bay Packers - If the front seven on defense can improve, the Packers may be poised for a potential playoff run. People should realize that Aaron Rodgers is a top-ten NFL quarterback.
16. New Orleans Saints - The Saints are a small favorite to win the NFC South this year. I will be a little skeptical with that defense, but their offense certainly has a lot of weapons.
17. Houston Texans - Just like New Orleans, great O, bad D. I'll wait to jump on the bandwagon.
18. Buffalo Bills - With or without TO, I still think the Bills are the second best team in the AFC East.
19. Chicago Bears - Jay Cutler should improve the offense but with an aging defense and a clueless coach, it probably means that the Bears will miss out on the playoffs again.
20. Seattle Seahawks - A healthy Hasselbeck and TJ Houshmandzadeh means a chance to return to the postseason.
21. Jacksonville Jaguars - Probably better than last year but worse than two years ago. How does MJD do as the featured back?
22. Cincinnati Bengals - I can't believe I'm saying this, but I kind of like the Bengals this year. They "should" be better.
23. Miami Dolphins - I think last year was a fluke.
24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Byron Leftwich is a great backup, but a less-than-stellar starter. Should easily finish last in the NFC South.
25. Denver Broncos - Josh McDaniels has had a solid start to his coaching tenure.
26. New York Jets - I am not buying into all of the hype. A rookie quarterback, an aging team, and a new coach.
27. Detroit Lions - Should improve on last year's goose egg.
28. San Francisco 49ers - Some hype again this year. I just don't see it.
29. Oakland Raiders - When will the "big-name" college players make a difference? Not this year. The draft was a joke too.
30. Cleveland Browns - Speaking of jokes.
31. Kansas City Chiefs - The ESPN talking heads just love Matt Cassel, and that is why most of them are complete idiots.
32. St. Louis Rams - They "seem" to be the worst NFL team on paper. Key word, seem.