The NEXT: AFC Championship Game?

"Here we go again." Getty Images

Visit the 2009 NEXT universe.

Since 2000—the start of the decade ("obvi") and also when Bill Belichick took over—the New England Patriots are 102-42 in the regular season, with three Super Bowl titles (although none since defeating the Eagles a few years back). In that same time period, a Bill Cowher/Mike Tomlin split in Pittsburgh, the Steelers are 94-49 in the regular season, with two Super Bowls. Both of their Lombardi Trophies have come since the Pats' last one. Soooo…who's the "AFC team of the decade," eh?

(The Steelers are 13-7 against the Pats all-time, as an aside. Obviously, the Pats have owned the Steelers in the postseason this decade, although the Steelers had a nice regular-season win this past season. Cue the naysayers: "Brady was hurt!")

The Steelers will ("obvi") enter next season as the defending champs, with most parts intact. The Patriots, despite multiple off-season question marks, are the Vegas favorite to win Super Bowl XLIV. Here's our call, right now: Steelers vs. Patriots in the 2009 AFC Championship Game, to be contested in January 2010. The movie-poster-style tagline for it?

"The Battle for AFC Team of the 2000s."

If you're a Titans fan, a Chargers fan, a Dolphins fan, etc—you've got reason to argue with this. But it could be sweet, no?