The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.
We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: Would you rest starters in the season finale with the top seed still in the mix?
The Steelers are heading toward their annual contest with the Browns with a 12-3 record and a bye week already assured. They could still potentially secure home field advantage for themselves as well if they win and the Patriots lose to the Jets in Foxboro.
With Bryce Petty at quarterback.
Truth be told, the likelihood of the Jets beating the Patriots in their season finale is incredibly low, and without getting that result, there is no reason for the Steelers to try particularly hard with some of their core players to win the game, because that is the only thing they have left to gain.
Last year, during the finale, they were already locked into the third seed, with no ability to move up or down, when they played without Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, Maurkice Pouncey, and James Harrison.
And they barely won that game, needing overtime to get a win over a team that was 1-14 entering the contest. Next week, they face the same team, only now they’re 0-15. But how much would you regret losing the game because you’re resting starters only to see the Patriots lose?
The Patriots have certainly looked beatable often enough, and for some reason Tom Terrific is throwing interceptions over the course of the past month all of a sudden. We know this to be true because even the Steelers managed to get one of them.
So do you go into the game with backups, and enough confidence in them that they can handle their business? And perhaps even to get them some playing time in case they’re needed? Like, say, fan-favorite Landry Jones?
Or do you go full-force and overwhelm the Browns to ensure a win, and then pull back and rest your stars—assuming that it even reaches that point? Until there’s clarity in the result of one of the two games, it’s rather hard to make a decision about what to do…although I’ve already previously stated what I would do.