The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph, and now Devlin Hodges? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
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 get lucky this time and actually get the help they need from other teams in Week 17?
While the Steelers greatly injured themselves in losing yesterday to the New York Jets, the good news—depending upon your perspective, I suppose—is that it’s not quite over yet. There is a clear and simple path for Pittsburgh to reach the postseason, and they merely need for one team to lose to another team, to whom they have already lost once, in addition to winning their own game.
It’s not the only path, but it’s the simplest and most likely. Beat the Baltimore Ravens, who will be resting possibly a large number of starters, and then hope that the hometown Houston Texans can defeat the Tennessee Titans. Houston has already locked up its division at 10-5, but there is still playoff positioning to fight for.
Maybe. It would require the Los Angeles Chargers going on the road and beating the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Chiefs win their 1 PM game, then they will secure at least the number three seed, since they will guarantee a better record than the Texans. If they lose, however, Houston could jump into the three spot with a better conference record by winning.
There are a couple of other ways for Pittsburgh to still get in of increasing unlikelihood. The Steelers had a couple of outcomes that they needed last year to move on that they also were unable to land upon, so despite being 7-2-1 through 10 games, they missed the postseason. This year, their high water mark was 8-5 and they had the fifth seed within their control. Even at 8-6, they could have still guaranteed themselves a playoff spot. Now, nothing is for certain, even with a win. Are you feeling lucky?