The Pittsburgh Steelers are the final unbeaten team in the NFL. Thanks to the Kansas City Chiefs embarrassing the Denver Broncos, however, they are not the only team in the AFC with six wins, as the Chiefs have not yet had their bye week and are now 6-1.
The Steelers know very well that by this time next week, they could be one of four teams with a 6-1 record or better. They just took down the Tennessee Titans, the last unbeaten team in the conference aside from themselves, and they play the Bengals next week. The Chiefs actually will not have their bye until week 10, with the Jets and the Panthers up next.
But then there’s the Baltimore Ravens, who entered week seven idle, on their bye, with a 5-1 record, and preparing to face the Steelers for control of the AFC North. If the Ravens win, the two teams will have an identical record, but Baltimore would of course have the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The two were supposed to play this week, but due to the Titans’ Covid-19 outbreak, that game was moved to this week and the Ravens game was pushed back a week, giving Baltimore a bye just before they face Pittsburgh. It may not be fair based on how it was originally scheduled, but that is the hand they’re dealt.
Meanwhile, the Steelers are coming off a tough, physical, hard-fought game, a big emotional victory that they can’t take the luxury of basking in even for a moment, something that head coach Mike Tomlin acknowledged after the game.
“We realize that we’ve got AFC North ball on next week on the road. We’re going to a group that has seven days’ advantage on us, so there’s a lot for us to be urgent about”, Tomlin said during his post-game press conference.
“We won’t spend a lot of time celebrating this or appreciating this because it’s just more work that lies ahead, but we like that element of the journey and we’re excited about assessing what’s transpired, hopefully making necessary improvements and positioning ourselves for next week’s challenge”.
The Ravens didn’t head into the bye week quite the way that they wanted to, nearly letting a win against the Philadelphia Eagles slip through their hands, but they have been one of the more dominant teams this year, with only a loss at the hands of the Chiefs a blemish on their record.
In the meantime, they acquired a former Pro Bowl pass rusher via trade in Yannick Ngakoue, who brings five sacks with him from the Minnesota Vikings. He’s also forced two fumbles and has five tackles for loss, all numbers that have been pretty much par for the course throughout his career. Just another thing for the Steelers to plan for without the benefit of a bye week.