Hype is a downside of the extended NFL off season. We revel in reading about our favorite teams 10 if not 11 months of the year, but this comes with a cost. News leads to analysis, which all too often leads to pack journalism.
You know, Miami was supposed to be Super Bowl bound going into 2006...
...Alas, the Dolphins finished 6-10.
This year it was the Browns were supposed to be the Cinderella team, while they did get into the win column today this week, one must keep in mind that they beat the Bengals.
On the flip side, who was thinking that the Bills and Redskins would start so strongly? Or for that matter, who thought the Ravens would be leading the AFC North going into week 4...?
Defining an Identity
Bill Cowher liked to say that a team established its identity over the first four to six games of a season. The Steelers game against the Ravens is going to reveal a lot about this team.
After starting strongly against Houston and Cleveland, the Steelers fell flat on their faces against the Eagles last week. Or perhaps its more accurate to say the Steelers fell, and Ben landed flat on his face.
They also lost Casey Hampton and Willie Parker in the process.
Its week four alright. The Steelers excelled in one game, looked good in another, and downright awful in the third. While they've (thankfully) avoided any catastrophic injuries, they are missing a handful of starters....
....Their number one draft pick makes his first start.
The pass protection that started surprisingly good, now seems leaking....
...and the Steelers are going up against the number one defense.
Its too early to say that tonight's game against the Ravens will be a pivotal contest in the race for the AFC North division title. The game define Rasheed Mendenhall's success or failure, nor will it close the book on the relative relative liability status of the aging defensive line.
But this early season meeting against the Baltimore Ravens will teach us a lot about the 2008 Steelers.