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Pittsburgh Steelers Can't Get No Respect!

Okay, before I get any futher, let me preemptively say that of course I put next to no stock into ESPN's late May edition of their NFL Power Rankings. Heck, Power Rankings are a fairly ridiculous premise even mid-season. That said, I couldn't resist but commenting on what the current perception seems to be about the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Naturally, the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints occupy the top spot. With Drew Brees and just about everybody else on offense returning, the Saints will again be next to impossible to slow down offensively.

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The Steelers? No. 19. Here's the explanation:

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Their star quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) is suspended for up to six games, and they traded their star receiver (Santonio Holmes) to the New York Jets. What else do you need to know? (Chadiha)

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 Very deep analysis. What about returning two key defensive players from their 2008 SB team - Bryant McFadden and Larry Foote? What about returning Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith to a defense that may have struggled mightily last year, yet still finished as a top 10 defense?

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Yes, the loss of Santonio Holmes hurts, but the Steelers were already intent on reverting back to being more of a running team in 2010 and beyond. If Ben Roethlisberger can stay out of trouble and adhere to the requirements laid out by the NFL, he should have his suspension lifted at a perfect time - as the team enters their BYE Week in Week 5. Roethlisberger would theoretically have two weeks to work with the first team offense and get ready to lead his team for a difficult slate of games in late October and November.

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Bottom line to me is that just about everything that could have gone wrong last year for the Steelers did go wrong. And they still finished at 9-7 and barely missed a playoff berth. Are they the favorites in the AFC North? Maybe not. But there are not 18 teams that are tougher outs than the six time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.