The high-priced teams aren't always in the playoffs, though. Look at baseball, where half of the top 10 in payroll missed the postseason entirely:
Even if money was everything, the Steelers would be in great shape playing in a division with Cleveland, Cincinati and Baltimore. Those teams aren't going to outspend us, and we'd be in the playoffs all the time.
What, you don't think we could knock off higher-seeded teams in the playoffs? ... (pause) ... yeah, I guess this year really proved that, huh?
The Steelers will never be like the Pirates, even without a salary cap. Teams that make good decisions will always be right in the mix. In the worst case, the Steelers would be like the Oakland A's, only with a better chance of winning it all because of the shorter season.
Really, baseball has had more parity and more diversity in the Big Show than the NFL has. In football, it depends a lot on how you obey rigid, arbitrary financial rules, whch I don't really consider an essential part of the game. The Patriots' "dynasty" essentially happened because their accountants were the best at working the system. That's not how I want to determine the NFL champion. If anything, the Steelers this year, with all the young talent on their roster, should be an example of how smarts, not money, can win you a championship.