You didn’t actually think Mike Tomlin would pick his own team to repeat as AFC Champs again in 2009 – did you? Of course, Tomlin, always one to keep things of what he says in mind, went so far at the owners meetings in Dana Point, California to pick the rival Ravens as the team to beat in the AFC North in 09.
“They won 11 games last year with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback,” Tomlin said Tuesday at the meetings. “They have a good football team. They have a great defense, they have a quarterback who proved he’s their quarterback of the future. You have to respect that.”
Hmmm…maybe it’s just Tomlin reminding his team that even though they are going to wear shiny rings on their fingers in 09 as a reminder of a Super Bowl title, there is going to be plenty of challenges in 2009, starting with teams in their own division, the best of the three being the Ravens. The Steelers swept the Ravens in three games in 2008, but all three were very close, winning by three, four, and then needing a late pick and TD to win by nine in the AFC title game.
Another team that Tomlin spoke about were the Pats, who were the AFC Champs two seasons ago, going 16-0 in the reguler season before losing to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Last season the Patriots lost QB Tom Brady in week one, but still were competitive going 11-5 and barley missing the playoffs. Tomlin knows that the Pats will be back and ready for bear in 2009.
“That’s an 11-5 football team with their backup quarterback,” Tomlin said of the Patriots, who have added several key free agents as well. “Enough said.”