Pittsburgh Steelers: 2009 Season Preview
By Wilson of Predictem.com
2008 Record: 15-4, ATS 11-8, Superbowl Champs (27-23 over Arizona Cardinals)
Stadium: Heinz Field
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin
Superbowl Odds: 10-1
Training Camp Site: Latrobe, Pennsylvania
Training Camp Dates: July 31- August 20
The defending superbowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers are excited to get the 2009 season going, but will it be a test to repeat as champions. Critics are already bad-mouthing the apparent gravy schedule that favors another Steeler run into the playoffs. However, Pittsburgh relies heavily on their traditional running game, and the ground attack is a bit cloudy at the moment. Willie Parker is in the final year of his contract and may feel pressure to out perform his peers to save face on an extension. Parker missed a lot of games in 08 and needs to stay healthy for the offense to execute as usual. Defensively the Steel Curtain has been the backbone of this team from day one, so I see them continuing that effort especially with the grid kids schedule they have this season. Will there be back to back superbowl wins for the Steelers this year?
Whats New? Wide receiver Shaun McDonald and key draft pick Mike Wallace (Mississippi).
Whos Gone? WR Nate Washington (Tenn.) and QB Byron Leftwich (TB).
Offense: Big Ben Roethlisberger will be the no. 1 guy behind center again this season for the Steelers. Roethlisberger has been the guy in Pitt since 2004 and he has proven to be a winner. Not since Terry Bradshaw has there been a QB in Pittsburgh who earned such respect from peers and the rest of the league. He may not be the most fluid QB but he gets the job done by making big-time plays nearly every time they need one.
With the probable addition of Shaun McDonald and Mike Wallace the Steelers will have even more targets outside of Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes. Holmes may actually take over as the no.1 receiver this season if he continues to shine the way he did last season. Limus Sweed is fighting for the WR3 spot and may just beat out McDonald. Ward is recovering from off-season shoulder and ankle surgery but somehow he always finds a way to compete and piece himself together.
Willie Parker should lead the rushing attack again and provide the threat on the ground that will clear the way for both the run and the pass. Parker looks to be cast with a healed Bernard Mendenhall or Mewelde Moore to balance out the running game.
Defense: The Steelers will be dominating on defense as this is the cornerstone of the program. Pittsburgh has been ranked No.1 in total team defense three of the last five seasons and first in the last two. Lamar Woodley and James Harrison combine to cause chaos on quarterbacks throughout the league as they are no strangers to multiple sacks per game. The pressure Pitt puts on QBs only helps the secondary create great opportunities for turnovers and big-time plays.
The Steelers will once again fly to the football and frustrate opposing offenses with their physical toughness, speed, and down and dirty mentality.
Special Teams: The Steelers will need to improve their punt return team as they have been pretty weak in the past few years. The kick return team has also been below par. We all know that every aspect of the game must be sharp to advance deep into the playoffs and back to the superbowl.
September 10 - Titans
September 20 - at Bears
September 27- at Bengals
October 4 -Chargers
October 11 -at Lions
October 18 -Browns
October 25 -Vikings
November 1 - BYE
November 9 -at Broncos
November 15 - Bengals
November 22 - at Chiefs
November 29 - at Ravens
December 6 -Raiders
December 10 -at Browns
December 20 - Packers
December 27- Ravens
January 3 -at Dolphins
Betting Odds and Projections:
With an ATS of 11-8 last season and a creampuff schedule this year, the Steelers will likely cover more spreads with the continued chemistry of the offensive attack coupled with a healthy outlook and dominating defense despite the oddsmakers shading the lines knowing that most bettors will be on the Pittsburgh side. Roethlisberger should have plenty of targets and a complimentary backfield to string together another playoff appearance.
As the defending superbowl champions, Pittsburgh will be tested every week on both sides of the ball. If the Steelers stick to their traditional offense and maintain their stellar defense it could be yet another superbowl victory.
Pittsburgh opens the regular season at home against the Titans then they hit the road for two consecutive weeks at the Bears and Bengals only to return home and face the dangerous San Diego Chargers. The first four weeks will set the tone for the champs. Luck to ya.