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Why the Indianapolis Colts Will Be Better Than the Steelers in 2007

I've thrown out a challenge to the followers of every other NFL out there: tell us why your team will be better than the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007. And plenty of eager writers are lined up to tell you exactly why they will be superior to the Black and Gold. In the coming weeks, be prepared to get a gauge on exactly where the rest of the country ranks us in the NFL hierarchy this season.
Today's essay comes to us from Bruce Paine, author of the fine website "Cobra Brigade". He thinks this was an easy assignment. I'll let him tell you more about it.
Why the Indianapolis Colts Will Be Better Than the Steelers in 2007

Thank you Mondesi’s House for giving me this easy assignment with which I can talk about the Colts. I firmly believe than Colts are better than the Steelers, and since the Colts were the Super Bowl champs last year I think I can safely say that they are better than most if not all of the teams in the NFL. I am not a stat man, stats don’t make plays so I won’t say a great deal about stats. I do like to evaluate the game, though, so I will compare the Colts and Steelers position by position and leave it at that. I will start with the coaching staff and move on from there.

The Colts have a better coaching staff than the Steelers. That isn’t really a stretch to say. Tomlin, though promising, has never been a head coach in any form on any level. His lack of experience is probably best placed in a team like the Steelers who, for all intents and purposes, are rebuilding. Pittsburgh fans are going to have to accept the growing pains at the healthy prices of tickets to fancy Heinz Field. Tomlin won’t have to worry about coaching the defense up with an experienced LeBeau at his side, but development of a young offense will weigh on him heavily. He will have to rely on Bruce Arians. While I am grateful to Arians for the work he did as QB coach in Indy for Manning’s first three seasons he hasn’t had a lot of success as an offensive coordinator and I don’t expect much of a change. I am still waiting for someone to fill the role Randle El had so much success in. Pittsburgh also lost their offensive line coach in a year when injuries and depth may hinder the line. The Colts on the other hand have a great staff in Dungy, Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore, and Offensive Line coach Howard Mudd. Moore and Mudd may be the best assistant coaches at their position in the league. If you count front offices you have to tip your cap to the Rooney family for keeping a small market team wining for so long. If you count the stadiums, Pittsburgh has Indy beat by a mile until the end of this season, when the Colts unveil the new Lucas Oil Stadium. With its addition to the scenery of Conseco Fieldhouse and Victory Field, Indy has three very nice sporting venues to look forward to for a small city. Pittsburgh still a better baseball field, though.

In terms of comparison, the Colts offense is clearly superior at every position and this is where the real distance is created between these teams. Even with the loss of Tarik Glenn at left tackle the Colts have more continuity and they are the year to year best at preventing sacks. With the exception of Faneca and maybe (maybe) Marvel Smith, the Colts line is better position by position and probably at every backup position though I admit that is harder to evaluate. Perhaps Heath Miller is a better pure tight end than Dallas Clark, but Clark’s ability as a playmaker when split out make him the more “impact” player. The Colts have Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne. Uhh, maybe you Steelers fans want to talk about how great Ward is and all, but let’s be serious. He couldn’t take either spot from Wayne or Harrison. Maybe we could find a place for him in the slot. We have Peyton Manning. Big Ben has had his moments when he isn’t faceplanting, but there really isn’t much of a comparison there. Willie Parker is the better running back in terms of running the ball but he doesn’t participate in the passing game like Joe Addai. In this case, I may actually prefer Parker, but not by much.

On defense it is a slightly different story in terms of who is better. While Casey Hampton is elite, little talent surrounds him. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis can make more plays than anyone on Pittsburgh’s line or edge rushing backers. They have rare speed and pursue well from the backside. While neither will ever be considered a run-stuffing lineman, they push the pocket hard enough to disrupt the run game and tackle well. The Colts are thin at linebacker but have traded the range of Cato June (now in Tampa) for the tackling and aggression of Freddie Keiaho. With Keiaho and Rob Morris getting starts at the outside linebacker position the Colts will be better at the point of attack on edge rushing. The Steelers' linebacking corps has been depleted with the loss of Joey Porter’s significant impact but Farrior is still around and LeBeau will hide the deficiency with his blitzing schemes. Pound for pound the Steelers may be better at linebacker than the Colts. Troy Polamalu is probably the best safety in the league, but when Bob Sanders is healthy he is as good as anybody. Polamalu can hit but his real talent is in his ranging athleticism and ball hawking. Sanders doesn’t have that pass defense ability but may be the best pure striker in the NFL. These guys are two great players that are hard to compare. I think I would rather have Polamalu in terms of versatility and durability. The corner position is tough to call. Marlin Jackson may well be consider a better corner at the end of this coming season than any the Steelers have to offer but the boys from Pittsburgh definitely have more experience.

Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have a lot in common in terms of their franchises but they are at different points in their history. Both are small market teams with blue-collar fan bases. Pittsburgh has seen its zenith, though, and the Colts are just reaching theirs. It is easy for me to say that the Colts are a better team than the Steelers because our ring is newer, but the Colts are going to be better than Pittsburgh for the next four years. I am no preacher, but that is the truth.