The Pittsburgh Steelers enter week 17 of the 2013 NFL regular season with only a faint chance at making the postseason. First and foremost, the Steelers have to grab a win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Moreover, the Steelers also would need three other AFC teams to lose on Sunday in addition to a Pittsburgh win for their season not to end this week.
Obviously any postseason chances begin for the Steelers by completing the task at hand, namely defeating a Browns team that Pittsburgh has been much better than this season. When they take the field this week, though, the Steelers are going to need Ben Roethlisberger to come out, be a leader, and take control for the Pittsburgh offense.
In the past two weeks, both wins for the Steelers, Roethlisberger has been surprisingly shaky. While quietly having a really good season through the first 14 weeks of the season, Roethlisberger has combined to throw for only 358 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in their past two games. That’s far from the level that Big Ben will need to be at against Cleveland.
Though inconsistent, this Browns team has a quality defensive unit that they can run on the field. Moreover, if Joe Haden is fully healthy, he can really negate leading Steelers’ wide receiver Antonio Brown’s effectiveness this week. Subsequently, Roethlisberger could essentially be without both a big play threat as well as his security blanket in this game.
If Roethlisberger is going to carry this Steelers team, especially if Brown gets shut down, he’s going to have to make smart decisions with his throws and with trying to keep plays alive. Moreover, he’s going to have to make the right reads and try not to force the ball into windows that aren’t available. There are certainly other factors involved in this game, but Big Ben might have the most to do with whether or not Pittsburgh notches a victory or not.