The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers reach the postseason?
The Pittsburgh Steelers are very near freefall status. They have lost three teams in a row, including to two teams with losing records. The Denver Broncos are now 6-7 after losing to the San Francisco 49ers, and the Oakland Raiders just got their third win of the year by beating this team.
Now 7-5-1, the Steelers are clinging to the narrowest margins not only to their division lead, but also to their edge in the wildcard race. And they are about to face a pair of teams who are clearly better than they are, first at home against the New England Patriots and then on the road against the New Orleans Saints.
It’s very possible that we could be sitting back here two weeks from now talking about a five-game losing streak, the Steelers a .500 team at 7-7-1, and where they will be in terms of the playoff seeding at that point is anyone’s guess.
The Baltimore Ravens have had a resurgence with Lamar Jackson in the lineup, winning three games in a row before nearly beating the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday. The Chiefs had to convert twice on fourth down for a late game-tying touchdown before winning in overtime.
And they have the Raiders and Browns as two of their three final games. They could certainly go 2-1, the Steelers 1-2, and see Baltimore win the AFC North with a 9-7 record, Pittsburgh at 8-7-1.
And there are several teams currently sitting at 7-6 right now, namely the Tennessee Titans, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Miami Dolphins. Barring one of these teams getting into a tie, tiebreakers will not become a factor.
If the Ravens, and any one of these three teams, win one more game than do the Steelers over the final three weeks of the season, than Pittsburgh is going to fail to reach the postseason. That’s the situation they face over this final stretch. It’s that simple.