The Pittsburgh Steelers are 7-4-1 on the season after losing back-to-back games. Three of those losses have come at Heinz Field, and only three of the wins. They will have to win their final two home games, against the New England Patriots and the Cincinnati Bengals, in order to finish the season with a winning record at Heinz Field.
If this is something that you’ve noticed, then you’re not the only one, because the Steelers are talking about it as well. While Ben Roethlisberger undersold the significance of losing two games in a row, he did say, “I hate losing at home for our fans”.
Left guard Ramon Foster gave the sternest observation, however. “We can’t seem to win it at home right now, so maybe we’ll be great playoff road warriors”, he told reporters last night following the loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Of course the Steelers have been that road warrior team before, though there is only one player left on the roster who was a part of that, and that was Roethlisberger in his second season. Pittsburgh was the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs that year and defeated the third, second, and first seed in the AFC before beating the first seed in the NFC, all of those games of course being on the road up to the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh had been the best team in the league playing on the road lately, at least up until last week when they lost to the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium in what was just their second loss away from Heinz Field in more than a season’s worth of games stretching back to the middle of the 2016 season, going 15-1-1 in that span.
By falling the 7-4-1- on the season, the Steelers are making it very difficult on themselves to earn a bye week. They would, in the best-case scenario, need the Houston Texans to lose two of their final four games and for the New England Patriots to lose one of their three remaining games against teams other than themselves—and then beat them as well.
That is the clearest path available to the Steelers toward a bye week, but right now that is looking even less likely than their even having a home playoff game in the Wildcard Round. The Baltimore Ravens are now just behind them at 7-5 after winning three games in a row. If the Ravens win one more game in the final four than Pittsburgh does, then the AFC North would run through Baltimore.
No matter who or where they play, however, it’s clear that there are a number of issues this team needs to fix and to fix immediately. The Oakland Raiders, their next opponents, just gave the Kansas City Chiefs about all they could handle, so they can’t even take that game as a given.