The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.
There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in the scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.
Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.
There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: What would a win over the Ravens on Sunday mean for the Steelers’ playoff hopes?
It’s Week 14 already and we’re just getting to Ravens Week 1 now. It seems like a bit of football injustice to keep fans away from such a cornerstone matchup for so long, so deep into the season, but finally, we have arrived.
Neither team is likely to be playing at full strength, though perhaps nobody is at this point. Most glaring is the status of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who seems to be trending toward unavailability after exiting Sunday’s game with an injury.
While Baltimore has a competent backup more than equipped to run their offense in Tyler Huntley, there’s a reason Jackson is Jackson and Huntley is Huntly. Either way, it improves the Steelers’ chances of being able to win this game.
And if they do…then what? Well, for starters, they’ll be 6-7 after not so long ago sitting at 2-6. They would only knock the Ravens down to 8-5, so it’s not exactly putting the division within reach (and the Cincinnati Bengals are 8-4), but what does it say about the Steelers’ playoff prospects?
I wrote an article about where they stand right now relative to postseason seeding and expectations yesterday and quite honestly found it to be received better than I anticipated, quite surprising really. Perhaps we all really do like to see them win games at the end of the day. But back to business.
Okay, so they beat the Ravens. The only other game against a team with a winning record is another matchup against the Ravens later in the year. The rest of the schedule features the Panthers, the Raiders, and the Browns—and Deshaun Watson didn’t look all too good coming back.
We do know that they have winnable games in front of them. The ultimate question is would 9-8, or dare I say 10-7, be good enough to make it to the postseason?
Right now the three Wildcards are owned by the Bengals (8-4), the Dolphins (8-4), and the Jets (7-5). If they can pass anybody, it would be the Jets, who still play the Bills, Lions, Jaguars, Seahawks, and Dolphins. That’s definitely a tougher schedule than Pittsburgh’s, but the Steelers would need New York to lose at least three times. That’s a tough ask but the Jets have arguably been punching above their weight all season and have some tough opponents coming up. Playoff hopes are a faint flicker right now. They could look a fair bit brighter by Sunday evening if things break their way.