The regular season is now over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the playoffs as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to playoff success, in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Which team will find themselves heading for their ninth Super Bowl in franchise history when all is said and done on the field?
Game day has arrived, and there is not a whole lot of time left for beating around the bush, because all the analysis and build-up will mean nothing once the game starts. And when it is over, one team will be awarded its ninth opportunity to compete in the Super Bowl. Will it be the Steelers, or will it be Tom Brady and the Patriots, making their seventh appearance in the past 16 years?
Going all the way back to the 2003 season, there has been only one time over that span in which at least one of the Steelers and the Patriots were not competing for the right to play in the Super Bowl. This is only the second meeting between the two teams for that right, however, and Pittsburgh is looking to reverse the outcome from the first time out.
Now, both teams have momentum going for them. The Steelers have won nine games in a row, while the Patriots have won eight games in a row—in fact, they have only lost two games all season, one of which was without Brady at quarterback.
The Patriots are favored to win, and rightfully so, admittedly, especially with home-field advantage being what it is, but both teams are talented and playing at a high level at the right time, yet each have their flaws that can be exploited.
One interesting statistic to note is that the Patriots with Brady are 12-0 in the postseason against teams that they did not face in the regular season, but 11-9 against teams that they did face. It’s still a winning record, but it’s substantially worse.
What does that all mean? I don’t really know. Perhaps teams are better-prepared the second time around for whatever New England has to throw at them and how they game-plan against them. But that statistic, like all the others, won’t mean anything in a few hours once the game starts to determine who will be going to their NFL-record ninth Super Bowl.