Last year’s season came to a bitter end for Steeler Nation. After a great regular season record (12-4), and two tough playoff wins against formidable defenses (Ravens, Jets); the Steelers were poised for their seventh Super Bowl. All those dreams came to an abrupt halt against the injury ridden Green Bay Packers and their stud QB. Little did we all know, that same Packers team would go on to win 13 straight games and are the favorites to repeat this year.
If the Steelers want another shot to knock off the champs, they will most likely have to win away from home in the Playoffs. Two regular season loses to their bitter rival Baltimore Ravens hurt Pittsburgh’s chances of having that ever-so important first round bye and the luxury of hosting at least one playoff game. The Steelers have no trouble grinding out wins on the road in January, as they were the 6th seed back in the 2005-06 season when they defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, but having an extra week to rest this veteran team would be crucial for another deep playoff run.
Coach Mike Tomlin has already announced that starting QB Ben Roethlisberger will sit out today’s game against St. Louis. I would bet Big Ben won’t be under center for the season finale against Cleveland either. Luckily for Pittsburgh, the Rams and Browns have a combined record of 6-22, and the Rams are still fighting for the number 1 overall pick in this coming NFL draft.
If Pittsburgh can win out they would need the Ravens to lose one of their two remaining games in order to secure the number 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. Baltimore finishes the season with a home game against Cleveland and a road game in Cincinnati on New Year’s Day. Pittsburgh still has an outside shot at the number 1 overall seed, but they would need to win out and see New England lose to either the Dolphins or Bills. That scenario is rather unlikely, but anything can happen in the NFL, just ask the Houston Texans.