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Despite Big Ben's suspension, Steelers can't be overlooked

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made a strong statement today by suspending Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. I didn't think Goodell would take such severe actions because of recent lawsuits filed by players over possible suspensions. Because the suspension was six games, Roethlisberger probably was involved in more trouble than most of us initially thought. Plus, the NFL loves to protect its quarterbacks both on and off the field, so this suspension indicates that the league is fed up with Roethlisberger.

Despite the suspension, you can't write the Steelers off in 2010. This has been the NFL's model franchise, and they have an outstanding coach in Mike Tomlin. The good organizations rally around a crisis like this, much like the Ravens did in 2000 around Ray Lewis. Both Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich are capable quarterbacks and can win in Pittsburgh, and third-year quarterback Dennis Dixon played well despite losing to the Ravens last season.

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The path, though, to the AFC North title clearly has to come through Baltimore, especially with the upgrades at receiver. The Bengals are the defending champions, but not tough enough in November and December to be serious threats. Pittsburgh is now in crisis mode, and Cleveland is, well, Cleveland.

As for Big Ben, he got what he deserved. It probably should have happened to him years ago.

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