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Monday, February 2, 2009
How the AFC South stacks up against the new champs

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Thirty-one teams are thinking the same thing this morning: It should have been us.

OK, make that 30.

Outside of Detroit, every team in the league believes it's not that far off the standard the Steelers set Sunday with a classic win in Super Bowl XLIII.

When three of the four teams of the AFC South measure themselves against Pittsburgh, they've got recent success against the Steelers as evidence to convince themselves that they are not far off.

A quick team-by-team look back at how the division measured up to the Steelers in 2008:

Houston -- The Texans got destroyed by the Steelers on opening day 38-17 in Pittsburgh. Houston can take some solace in the fact that it got a lot better by the end of the season, but it won't be a bad thing if the Texans remember that game and use it as the gauge of the improvements they need to make this offseason through free agency and the draft.

Indianapolis -- The Colts went to Pittsburgh in Week 9 and pieced together a 24-20 win thanks to three touchdown passes from Peyton Manning and three interceptions of Ben Roethlisberger. Indy has every reason to believe it is good enough to play with Pittsburgh, even on the road.

Jacksonville -- Early in a miserable season, the Jaguars hosted the Steelers and lost, 26-21. The 2008 Jaguars hardly got stomped by the Super Bowl champions to-be. And the 2007 Jaguars won in Pittsburgh twice in a month, 29-22 in a December regular season game and 31-29 in the wild card round of the playoffs.

Tennessee -- The Titans played their Week 16 game against Pittsburgh at LP Field with the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff at stake. Tennessee won 31-14, handing the Steelers the worst of their four losses this season. The Titans are the only team in the AFC South to play Pittsburgh in 2009, and that game at Heinz Field will offer Tennessee two things: a chance to show how it stacks up against the champs and a week to discuss whether stomping a Terrible Towel after the win just six weeks ago was such a good idea.