The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The Ravens will do the Steelers a favor by having nothing to play for in the finale (making it easier for them to win).
Explanation: The Ravens are not simply on the cusp of winning the AFC North—in fact, they have already won it. Now sitting at 12-2 on the season, their magic number has become one for winning the first seed. If the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs lose this weekend, they won’t have to do anything. If not, a win next week would clinch things for them.
Given that they are the best team in the league, this is an easy buy. Even without any help, the Ravens’ final opponent ahead of the season finale against the Steelers is the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland has turned things around a bit in recent weeks, aside from losing to Pittsburgh in a pivotal rematch, but uh…one team is clearly better than the other.
Baltimore is pretty healthy. There really aren’t any variables that should hinder their ability to conduct their business as usual, which is to beat anybody who is on the field up against them. Next week, it will be the Browns, and they will lose. Which will mean Robert Griffin III will start the finale against the Steelers.
First, it should be pointed out that Pittsburgh doesn’t need any help if they simply win. Winning the next two games alone should be enough to make it into the postseason, and possibly even with the fifth seed.
But don’t expect a lot of help. The Chiefs and Patriots have clearly winnable schedules, which would keep them from clinching before the finale. And let’s not forget that the Browns are the last team to beat the Ravens. In fact, they creamed the Ravens. And this came is in Cleveland.
Say what you will about them, but one thing the Browns have is talent. Their offense can take off at any point simply due to the fact that they have great players at the skill positions, which always makes them dangerous. And if Baker Mayfield wakes up feeling dangerous, the Ravens could be entering the finale with unfinished business to settle.