Enter the champions
Look out, rest of the NFL - here come the defending champions.
Seven months after they beat Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a slow start to the 2009 season, dropping two of their first three against Chicago and Cincinnati. Then they quietly moved back into the playoff picture with wins over San Diego, Detroit and Cleveland.
But what they have done over the past two games - in defeating the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos - means the Steelers are no longer going to sneak up on the rest of the league.
They are rightly back in the mix as genuine Super Bowl contenders.
Coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are aiming for a second successive NFL title
The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints grab most of the headlines due to their 8-0 starts but would you confidently back them to beat Pittsburgh with a title on the line?
This Steelers team is built for the playoffs and have been there and done it before, winning two of the last four championships.
Coach Mike Tomlin's men know how to dig deep and win the big battles and they seem to be getting good performances from all over the field. They remain, as always, one of the most physical outfits in the business.
During Monday's 28-10 defeat of the Broncos, Ben Roethlisberger had another very good game at quarterback, throwing for 233 yards and three touchdowns; wide receiver Hines Ward proved himself as reliable as ever with two scoring grabs and young running back Rashard Mendenhall has added some punch and burst behind an improving offensive line.
He rushed for 155 yards against Denver and has 573 on the season at an average of 5.7 yards per carry (where 4.0 is considered the average).
Roethlisberger has to be considered one of the best quarterbacks playing in the NFL today. He is in total control of Bruce Arians' offence and is a far cry from the youngster who started out in Pittsburgh.
Big Ben was originally asked to take care of the football and let Pittsburgh win through a strong running game and a dominant defence.
Now, Roethlisberger is the team's primary offensive weapon and he works well with a good cast of targets in Ward, Santonio Holmes, unheralded youngster Mike Wallace and tight end Heath Miller.
He may hold onto the ball too long and take a few sacks, but Roethlisberger is a natural playmaker and sometimes his scrambling around opens things up downfield for big plays to unfold.
The growth of Roethlisberger can be measured by taking a quick glance at Pittsburgh's two Super Bowl wins since he took up his position.
In the first victory over Seattle, after the 2005 season, Big Ben was distinctly average and, at times, downright poor, throwing two interceptions.
In last season's thrilling victory over Arizona, Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a magical game-winning drive in the final moments and capped the march with a pin-point touchdown strike to Holmes. It was a wonderful performance under the most intense pressure.
Defensively, the Steelers adopt a bend-but-don't-break approach. It seems they regularly allow opponents to pick up decent chunks of yardage but do not let teams score very many points on them.
We know all about the star performers such as outside linebackers James Harrison (eight sacks this season) and safety Troy Polamalu (three interceptions in 2009) but there is depth on that side of the ball and everyone seems capable of making a big play when one is needed most.
Without defensive end Aaron Smith, who is out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury, the Steelers could have been forgiven for wondering who would make plays at that position. They needn't have worried as somebody always comes up big for this team at the right time - on Monday defensive end Brett Keisel chipped in with a pair of vital sacks.
And the Steelers were playing without hard-hitting safety Ryan Clark, who has a rare sickle-cell trait that gets dangerously aggravated when he plays at altitude - as in Denver in 2007, when he needed emergency surgery - and remained on the sidelines.
Substitute safety Tyrone Carter scored the first touchdown of the game on a 48-yard interception return and added another pick and two tackles in a stellar display.
The big-name stars are holding up their end of the bargain but the lesser-known lights are also making huge plays when they are needed most.
The Steelers are rolling with five wins in a row and the second half of their fixture list features meetings with the lowly Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns. Those are extremely winnable games and I think it is a safe bet to say the Steelers are playoff-bound.
And when they reach the post-season, it would take a brave man to bet against them given their track record in recent years.
You can catch Neil commentating on an NFL game every Sunday at 2100 GMT on BBC 5 live sports extra throughout the season. (Available on the web to UK users only).