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: Even with possibly several key starters not playing on Sunday, it is still important for the Steelers to carry some momentum into the playoffs through the regular season finale.
Explanation: One of the eternal debates is whether or not rest or bye weeks help or hinder a team’s ability to succeed. While a week off can lead to playing rusty, it is also an opportunity for players to get their bodies healthy, and takes the chance of being injured in a game off the table. For a team that has struggled so much lately, despite an 11-0 start, it would seem important for them to be able to carry something of a forward momentum into the postseason.
While it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be able to win in the first round of the postseason, it makes it more difficult to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the stage when you are a team that has struggled so much heading into the postseason, knowing that you have not been playing your best football.
It’s true that we can reasonably expect a number of key players to sit this game out, but that doesn’t mean that everybody will, and you still need your guys who are in there to play well. Even the backups who are in the game can help build momentum to carry into the postseason.
There really isn’t compelling evidence to suggest that teams with ‘momentum’ fare better in the postseason than do others. Top seeds still generally win their games regardless of momentum, and regardless of whether or not they rest. Generally, they are top seeds because they are better teams, after all.
The biggest factor that the finale can have on the first round of the postseason is injuries, and that is what the Steelers have to look to avoid. While it would be preferable, as always, to have the team play well to close out the regular season, the reality is that it’s more of a bonus than something of significant value.