After the loss to the Tennessee Titans this past Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a position where every game is a must-win. Even more important are the AFC North matchups that have yet to come.
Pittsburgh thus far is winless on the road and it just so happens that their next game is against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati. Despite the Steelers’ 2-3 record, technically they are still in the hunt for the AFC North title.
The one thing that may keep the Steelers from finding their winning ways is the same thing that has slowed them down so far, which would be injuries. Pittsburgh’s injury list has been full all season long. In their last game, safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker LaMarr Woodley were inactive with a calf injury and a hamstring injury respectively.
In addition to the injuries to Polamalu and Woodley, five Steelers left Thursday night’s game after being bitten by the injury bug. Offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey (knee) and Marcus Gilbert (ankle), running backs Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle), and linebacker Chris Carter (hamstring) all were hurt in the first half of the 26-23 loss to the Titans.
Honestly, I don’t see the Steelers making the postseason if all of these injuries continue to mount. Furthermore, I think that it will be even more difficult for Pittsburgh to clench a playoff berth if they start on the wrong foot versus a divisional opponent.
As mentioned before, the Steelers next game will be against the division rival Bengals. Following that game will be two NFC East opponents (the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants), and the Kansas City Chiefs from the AFC West. Then Weeks 11-13 will be divisional games.
If the Steelers dig themselves into a deeper hole before Week 11, then they can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.
Somehow, someway, Pittsburgh needs to come away with a victory when they travel to Cincinnati in Week 7. I believe that the margin for era is as slim as it’s going to get for the Steelers. If there ever was a time for Pittsburgh to get any momentum going, this would be the time.
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