The hunted

The Steelers feel that even though they didn't win the AFC Championship last season, they are the team to beat.

With training camp just over two weeks away, the Steelers are champing at the bit to appease their need for revenge from last year's collapse against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

In fact, to a man, if you talk to the Steelers, they sound as if it was they, and not the Patriots, who won that game and went on to win the Super Bowl.

"We're the hunted right now," said strong safety Lee Flowers. "We're not going to get caught up in what the media is picking. Everywhere you look, it's the Steelers and St. Louis or the Steelers and Philly. Every publication that has been out has been the Steelers and somebody (playing in the Super Bowl)."

And what about the Patriots, whom the Steelers open the season against Sept. 9 in New England.

"We're talking about New England already," Flowers said. "There's no better way to start a season off than against the defending Super Bowl champs."

But the Patriots also have to be aware of the predictions the Steelers will unseat them as AFC champs. Shouldn't the Patriots be considered the team to beat?

"Everybody knows who the hunted is," Flowers said. "Ask New England. They know."

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