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 having a bye week after the Steelers play a very physical game will be the difference in next week’s meeting in Baltimore’s favor.
Explanation: Were it not for the Titans’ Covid-19 outbreak, the Steelers and Ravens would have just wrapped up their Baltimore-hosted portion of their home-and-away season series, and both would be heading into their bye week. Instead, the Ravens were given their bye this past week and the Steelers played their makeup game against arguably the most physical team in the NFL that is not themselves.
It’s one thing to say that it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s fair. It’s another thing to say that it won’t have an impact and can’t play a role in determining the result of the game. The Ravens getting a bye week just before playing the Steelers that they weren’t supposed to have is a sucky break for Pittsburgh, and yes, it has a chance of being a decisive factor.
That is coupled with a grueling 60-minute affair against the Tennessee Titans. Even though Derrick Henry didn’t really get going, he still carried the ball 20 times, and Robert Spillane got the worst of at least one tackle.
The wide receivers also took a beating. Diontae Johnson left with an ankle injury, while JuJu Smith-Schuster looked like he was slow to get up after every catch. On one third-down conversion, he was hit mid-air twice and spun around. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger just threw 49 passes.
Is it better to have a bye week than not? Pretty much always yes, of course, even if Roethlisberger earlier complained about the bye disrupting his development. But it’s not like the Steelers haven’t known for weeks that the Ravens are going to have this bye, and that they would have to plan accordingly.
Despite coming off a physical game, they actually came out of it relatively cleanly, and are even likely to get some reinforcements, most notably Mike Hilton making his way back and possibly Derek Watt as well. The Steelers may well lose this game, but it won’t be because they’re beat up while the Ravens are fresh and clean.