As we all know, the Pittsburgh Steelers won their record-setting sixth Super Bowl this past Sunday, as they knocked off the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in an absolute thriller. This also means that the Steelers will begin the season on a Thursday night in Pittsburgh a few days before the rest of the regular season gets underway.
Who will their opponent be for that game? Nobody knows yet. . .but there's a pretty good chance that it could be our own Beloved Purple trotting out onto Heinz Field the night the Steelers begin defense of their title.
Looking at the 2009 schedule, the Steelers are slated to have home games against the following teams:
As far as compelling games for a season opener go, I think we can scratch Cincinnati, Cleveland, Green Bay, and Oakland off the list from the start. . .based on 2008, at least. All of those teams had losing records this past season, and none of them were particularly impressive in 2008. I don't know if we can put San Diego up there, either. . .they were a .500 team, got into the playoffs because the Denver Broncos spent the entire month of December peeing on themselves, and their biggest superstar (LaDanian Tomlinson) appears to be slowing down at a pretty rapid pace.
So that leaves three potential matchups for the season opener. The league could set up a rematch of the 2008 AFC Championship Game by going with a Baltimore-Pittsburgh tilt. They could set up a clash between the reigining world champions and the team with the best regular-season record in football in 2008 by going with Tennessee-Pittsburgh. Or they could put together a matchup between the Steelers and one of the best and most talented teams in the NFC in our own Minnesota Vikings.
Throw in the added intrigue of Mike Tomlin's first opportunity to coach a regular-season game against his former team in prime time (or at any time), and it sounds to me like Vikings-Steelers should be the way the league is leaning to kick off the 2009 season. But I'm biased.
What do you think? Will the league pit the Vikings against the Steelers in 2009's first matchup, or do you think we. . .like Cris Carter. . .will get blown off for somebody else? Discuss it here, and we'll be back with more later on!