Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
Although the 2009 season could have major ramifications on the debate for team of the decade, the AFC North should have a sense of pride to be the only division in football to have a pair of top-5 franchises.
According to NFC West blogger Mike Sando's mathematical formula, the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 3) and Baltimore Ravens (No. 5) were elite NFL franchises in the past decade. The grade included factors such as regular-season wins, playoff appearances and victories and losses in the Super Bowl since 2000.
Although a spirited case could be made that Pittsburgh should be the No. 2 franchise ahead of the Indianapolis Colts, Indianapolis did have more success than the Steelers in the regular season. Pittsburgh had more success than the Colts in the playoffs, including two Super Bowls wins compared to Indianapolis' one. But it wasn't enough to put the Steelers on top in this particular formula.
Pittsburgh, the defending Super Bowl champion, is trying to be the first team to repeat since the 2003-04 New England Patriots, who are the top-rated franchise in this decade with three Super Bowl wins.
But if the Steelers find a way to tie New England's mark, trying to pinpoint the best team of the past 10 years will be very difficult.