After his dream-like regular season, the Steelers' rookie sensataion plummeted to the ground in the playoffs. Roethlisberger finally looked his age in the AFC Championship Game, when he threw three ill-advised interceptions. One reason to think Roethliberger will have no problem in his second year is the Steelers' run-first philosophy. Big Ben does more handing off than any other quarterback in the league. Roethlisberger also is aided by his ability to scramble, which makes him more difficult to blitz. Can we expect another 14-game win streak from the kid? Probably not, but he's still going to be pretty good.
2. Can Bill Cowher win the big playoff game?
Cowher is 1-4 in AFC Championship Games and has failed to win a Super Bowl in his 13-year tenure. Last season, the Steelers got lucky to beat the Jets in the divisional playoffs and had a total meltdown against the Patriots in the AFC title game. Maybe Cowher is jinxed or maybe he doesn't keep his team composed in crucial games. He's likely to get another shot this season: He has a 15-1 team that brings almost everyone back.
3. Can the core of the Ravens' 2000 team ever reach the Super Bowl again?
Only four starters --Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister and Jonathan Ogden-- remain from the team that won Super Bowl XXXV. Ravens management since has added outstanding defensive players Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas, but it hasn't quite figured out the offense. Ogden and Ray Lewis are both over 30. They probably have two or three years at most to make it back to the big game. That's only going to happen if the Ravens can find the right mix on offense and find a way to score against the better teams.
4. Will Jamal Lewis' prison term affect his play on the field?
Lewis served four months this offseason after pleading guilty in October to using a cell phone to try to set up a cocaine deal in 2000. He was released on June 3 and is supposedly in great shape, although he did undergo ankle surgery in January. Lewis is only 25, so there's a good chance he could return to the form that made him NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2003, when he ran for 2,066 yards. As for his image, all he has to do is look at teammate Ray Lewis, who quickly transformed from pariah to league spokesperson.