In taking a non biased look at the other teams in the division, talking about the Steelers was the toughest task. There is a deep hatred for the team I hold as a Bengal fan. I could detail the reasons why but can sum it up with two major issues: the fans and some jealousy.
That aside, looking at the Steelers this season leaves me wondering what kind of team they will be. It seems thay may be on a bit of a decline, but one thing the Steelers organization is good at doing, is reloading. Usually when a player or players leave they have the "next guy up" mentality to fill the void. However, as the other teams in the division continue to get stronger, we may not be looking at the typical Steelers domination that we have grown accustomed to in the past.
This season the Steelers will be relying on two rookies to start, which is not something we are accustomed to seeing. Many reports have Jarvis Jones and Le'Veon Bell starting for the black and gold. Bell looks to be a bell cow type back that has enough speed to break a run or two. Jones dropped fairly far in the draft after being considered a possible lock for the Browns. Both have to play well for the Steelers to compete this season.
Many of the pre-season power rankings (which are worthless) have the Steelers as a middle of the road type team. This has brought a groundswell of comments like "The media hates the Steelers", "We never get any respect", and my favorite, "How many rings does your team have?". I think the ranking fits, with some unproven players on both sides of the ball, and a team that has not played very well in the past season, a middle of the road ranking is all the Steelers deserve.
What does this mean for the Bengals?
The Bengals are playing against the rivalry. Look at the numbers, the Steelers currently own the Bengals. Sure, we love to talk about when we swept the division, or if Carson Palmer would not have gotten hurt, but those days are over and we need to move on. Moving on for the team means outplaying the Steelers and not making the critical mistakes that turn the game in Pittsburgh's favor. I could argue that recently the Bengals have had the more talented team on the field, but that alone does not ensure a win. For some reason, the Bengals players and coaches seem to fold when playing the Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger recently made a good will trip to London. Keeping all the "I hope the English women are safe" jokes aside, he made a statement about wanting to win more Super Bowls than any QB in Steelers history. With Terry Bradshaw having 4 victories, than means Ben wants to win 3 more Super Bowls. On the one hand, I commend him for the confidence and the drive, on the other I think it's nuts a 31 year old QB thinks it is possible to dominate the league so much in the next 3-8 years. I can't see Ben performing as a top QB long enough to make this goal a possibility.