Following Sunday’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens, I started reading some of the comments from Steelers fans. Many took the same path as Hines Ward and questioned Ben Roethlisberger’s toughness. Others had a few choice words for the Steelers defense. Of course there were some who blasted the Steelers special teams (nothing new there). And we can always count on the “Fire Bruce Arians” crew to be vocal about their views. Heck, there were even some who called for Mike Tomlin to be fired.
As I read the comments in total disbelief, I found myself asking, “what’s everyone so worried about?”
The Steelers’ loss on Sunday definitely made it much more difficult for them to make the playoffs. But they are still right in the chase for a wildcard playoff spot. They are currently behind Denver (7-4), but I don’t think that is going to last. Then they’re tied with Jacksonville (6-5) and Baltimore (6-5) for the final wildcard spot.
The Steelers look like a probable playoff participant. Moreover, they’re 6-5, not 5-6. So why is Steeler Nation in such a panic?
If we look at the Steelers’ future opponents, the challenges don’t look daunting. They have what look like easy wins against Oakland and Cleveland remaining. Yeah, I know that we said the same thing about Kansas City, but that was an anomaly. The Steelers also have to face the Baltimore Ravens here in Pittsburgh. The Ravens just barely beat us in overtime with our 3rd string quarterback starting, and without Troy Polamalu. Let’s see them do that in Pittsburgh with Big Ben at the helm, and Troy likely in the line-up. The Miami Dolphins’ record (5-6) is below .500, so the Steelers should be able to beat them. The greatest challenge may be the Green Bay Packers. They’re 7-4, but they’re trailing the Minnesota Vikings (who the Steelers already beat) in the NFC North. That game will be in Pittsburgh, so the Steelers should have a decided advantage.
When we look at that schedule, it is very easy to envision the Steelers winning each of those games. Going 5-0 is very feasible. However, the other teams that are in the playoff hunt probably can’t say the same thing.
The Denver Broncos currently hold the first wildcard position. However, they have lost 3 games in a row, and they still have games remaining against the Indianapolis Colts and the Philadelphia Eagles. That is hardly an easy path to the playoffs. In fact, they’ll probably be underdogs in both of those games.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ path doesn’t look much easier. Jacksonville has games remaining against Houston, Indianapolis, and New England. They could easily lose all of those games. They’ll likely lose 2 of them. Count them out.
The Ravens still have out-of-division games with Green Bay, Detroit, Chicago, and Oakland. They might lose one of those games. But the biggest obstacle in the Ravens’ path is another meeting with the Steelers. This one will be in Pittsburgh, and the Ravens will be the underdogs.
So as you can see, the Steelers fate is really in their own hands. If they take care of business, the playoffs are within reach.
Does anyone really think that Jacksonville is going to beat Indy and New England? Me neither.
Does anyone believe that Denver is going to beat Indianapolis and Philadelphia? I didn’t think so.
Does anyone believe that Baltimore is going to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh? Of course not.
So I’ll ask the question again, “what’s everyone so worried about?”
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