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Early results indicating big year

September 20, 2007
By Buck Frank,bfrank@altoonamirror.com
The burning question the last two weeks: Are the Steelers this good or are their opponents that bad?

It’s too early to know for sure, and it’s probably a little bit of both. But based on the facts, the answer to the question would be more toward the Steelers being a solid football team.

Here’s why:

n The Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, the Steelers’ first two opponents, may not be playoff teams this season, but they both gave strong showings in their other non-Steelers games this year.

n Each week the NFL features several games that aren’t decided until the final play. The parity in the league allows for any underdog to at least be competitive for four quarters. The Steelers not only dominated their two opponents by a combined score of 60-10, but they also had both games well in hand by mid-third quarter.

n History shows that when the Steelers start the season 2-0, they usually have a good team. Ten times they’ve begun 2-0 since 1969, and they’ve had winning records eight of those years, made the playoffs seven times and won four AFC championships and three Super Bowls.

n The Steelers start seven of the 11 offensive starters from their Super Bowl XL championship team and eight of the 11 defensive starters. Some of the new starters, such as right tackle Willie Colon, defensive end Brett Keisel and receiver Santonio Holmes — not to mention punter Daniel Sepulveda — appear to at least be an upgrade.

n New coach Mike Tomlin, to this point, has amazingly done and said nearly everything as well as could be expected. “We’re not trying to tell a story with our play,’’ he said after Sunday’s 26-3 win over the Bills. “We go out there and play on Sunday. We play to win. Style points are things that we analyze on Monday when we are trying to see perfection.’’ He doesn’t sound like a rookie coach.

n The Steelers have been one of the healthiest teams in the league, throughout the offseason, training camp, preseason and the first two weeks of the regular season.

The schedule has been kind to the Steelers, and a quick start was predicted by many. They may not be quite at the level of the Patriots and Colts yet, but based on what we know right now, they should at least be a better team than last year and a playoff contender.

NFL Week No. 3

Game of the week: Dallas (2-0) at Chicago (1-1), 8:15 p.m. Sunday (NBC). The Cowboys’ high-scoring offense goes against one of the league’s top defenses.

Upset special: Cincinnati (+3 1/2) at Seattle.

Fantasy tip: Look for the three top backs — LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and Steven Jackson — to resemble their normal selves this Sunday.

Buck Frank can be reached at 946-7461 or bfrank@altoonamirror.com. His live chat is 1 p.m. Tuesdays on altoonamirror.com.

 
 

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