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 Steelers will keep the Cleveland Browns out of the postseason.
Explanation: While the Browns don’t necessarily need a win in order to qualify for the postseason, they would need the Indianapolis Colts to lose to a one-win Jacksonville Jaguars team if they do not. Even if the Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans, and Baltimore Ravens all lose, it won’t help them.
Considering how bad the Jaguars are this year, especially without Gardner Minshew, and the fact that they are tanking anyway, the question basically comes down to whether or not the Steelers are going to beat the Browns.
And even without Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are still a better team than the Browns. Even with the strides Cleveland has made in recent years, the talent skews to the visiting side in this one, and the players who will be out there will be motivated to perform—and motivated to keep the Browns out of the playoffs.
Perhaps nobody would like it more than Mason Rudolph to keep Myles Garrett from experiencing his first taste of the postseason. Not just because of their history, but because he knows this is a huge opportunity for him to show that he is better than how he played last season—especially on this field.
Even if we assume that, talent for talent, the Steelers are the better team…even if we want to assume that still is the case when factoring in who will be resting—the reality is that the Steelers have not been playing up to their talent level lately.
Yes, the Browns just lost to the New York Jets, but then again, that just gives them more motivation to respond in this game. And they have everything to play for, while the Steelers, at best, have very little to play for. Their priority will be staying healthy.
And again, there is the possibility that they can still get into the postseason without winning. The Jaguars got blown out by the Chicago Bears this past week, but they have played some tough games, giving the Green Bay Packers a ride not too long ago. And the Colts are dealing with some injuries, just putting Anthony Castonzo on the Reserve/Injured List.