The Steelers get a bye this weekend. However, several AFC teams aren’t so lucky. The Baltimore Ravens will face the Kansas City Chiefs, and the New York Jets will play the Indianapolis Colts in the wildcard playoff games. Following those games, the Steelers will face either the Ravens, Chiefs, or Colts. Because of the NFL seeding rules, the Steelers cannot face the Jets.
Given those three teams as potential opponents, I started thinking about which team I’d rather face. Personally, I think that the Steelers can beat any of them. So I don’t fear any of these teams. However, I do have a preference for who I’d like to face.
My least desired opponent would be the Baltimore Ravens. We all know what to expect from a Steelers-Ravens game. It will be a physical war. And while I love watching those battles, I don’t want to see that just yet.
The problem with playing the Ravens is that the game is just too physical. Big Ben always finds a way to beat the Ravens, so I’m confident that we’d win. What I’m not confident of is that we’d come out of the game 100% healthy. When the Steelers face the Ravens, there are usually injuries on both teams. And the Steelers can’t afford that right now. So I don’t want to play the Ravens if we don’t have to.
I also don’t want to face the Colts just yet. I believe the Steelers would beat the Colts. But the Colts are the team that worries me the most of the 3 possible opponents.
The Reason I don’t want to see the Steelers face the Colts is that Peyton Manning is the quarterback who is most likely to be able to exploit the Steelers’ weakness. Anyone who has watched the Steelers this season knows that their cornerbacks are their weak link.
Bryant McFadden has made it clear to everyone why the Arizona Cardinals were so willing to let him return to the Steelers. And while William Gay has made some good plays this year, I don’t think anyone is comfortable with the idea of having him as a starter. Even Ike Taylor has looked vulnerable this season. Yeah, the Steelers’ cornerbacks have definitely been their Achilles heel.
Peyton Manning has the talent to execute a game plan similar to what Tom Brady and the Patriots always use against the Steelers. He can carve up their defense with passes, while practically neglecting the running game. That formula has worked against the Steelers in the past, and I fear that it will continue to work in the future until the Steelers upgrade their cornerbacks (or until Dick LeBeau stops asking his cornerbacks to give the receivers a 10 yard cushion off the line).
Once again, I don’t fear Manning and the Colts. I just don’t think that they are the team that gives the Steelers the best chance of winning. And at this point in the season, it’s all about winning.
The team that I believe gives the Steelers the best chance of winning is the Kansas City Chiefs. I think they’re an ideal opponent for the Steelers. The Chiefs are primarily a running team, and we know that the Steelers can stop the run. Once they’ve done that, I just don’t believe that Matt Cassel can beat the Steelers with his arm.
The Chiefs also beat the Steelers last year during that 5-game losing streak. I hate to sound petty, but I would like to see the Steelers avenge that loss.
So that’s why I’d choose the Kansas City Chiefs as my preferred opponent for the Steelers. Of course, we won’t know who they’ll actually face until this weekend is over. But the Chiefs are the team that I believe give the Steelers the highest odds of moving on to the next round.
What about you readers? If you had to choose an opponent for the Steelers, which team would you choose and why?
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