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: Who would you rather the Steelers face in the Divisional Round, the Titans or the Jaguars?
Call me crazy, but I have a hard time imagining the Bills with a banged up LeSean McCoy taking down the Jaguars on the road, even if Jacksonville finished off the year sluggishly. Odds are good that the Jaguars will be the Steelers’ next opponent.
But this isn’t about what you expect to happen. It’s about what you would prefer. With the Titans having beaten the Chiefs yesterday, we now know that Pittsburgh’s first playoff opponent will be either the Titans or the Jaguars. If the Jaguars win, the Steelers play them. If they lose, the Steelers play the Titans. Simple enough. And we’ll know who they play by the evening.
The Titans, I would imagine, figure to be the easier opponent. No matter who they face, they will go up against a team with a capable ground game and a mobile quarterback, both of which could be issues, but the Jaguars’ cornerbacks and pass rush are at another level.
If I were interested in the easiest path possible, I would rather face the Titans (and, sure, let’s have the Bills dethrone the Patriots while we’re at it), but I do believe the Steelers are capable of defeating any team in the league.
And facing the Jaguars would have a nice taste of revenge to it. Jacksonville is the only team that really embarrassed this team during the season, and there’s no reason to think we should be in for a repeat performance. Ben Roethlisberger has been putting up MVP-worthy numbers since the bye week. That first Jaguars game was a wake-up call if anything.
At the end of the day, I struggle to have much of a preference. But the Titans would be a bigger challenge for the Patriots than would be the Bills, I think, even if not by much. So I’ll go with the Jaguars. Bring ‘em on.