By Bill Dick
If you share in the frustration of a maddeningly mediocre Steeler season, then you may be surprised to see the words “Steelers” and “playoffs” in the same sentence. However, the Steelers, with only two games left, have a direct and relatively reasonable path to make it to the NFL playoffs. Read on to follow this path.
The Steelers must win their final two games against the Browns and the Ravens. Injuries and COVID have wreaked havoc with these teams’ seasons and the term “maddeningly mediocre” more than sums up their respective fans’ frustrations with their performance this year.
The Steelers will surely beat the Browns this week in Big Ben’s final regular season home game. The following week, if Ben is allowed to maintain a strong passing attack against a decimated Ravens secondary, they will win in Baltimore.
Those two wins will complete the Steeler season with a record of 9-7-1. That will be sufficient to finish ahead of the Browns and Ravens in the AFC North, leaving only the Bengals to be concerned about.
The Bengals will lose this week to Kansas City. The Chiefs are playing hard to be seeded first and get a first-round playoff bye. The following week, the Bengals play the Browns, who will revert to their Week 9 form, when they beat the Bengals by 25 points. The Browns will be desperately needing that win to save their coach’s and their quarterback’s jobs.
That second loss would leave the Bengals behind the Steelers, who would then become AFC North champions, seeded fourth in the playoffs! At that point they might likely draw the Bill Belichick led Patriots, seeded fifth, in the first playoff game.
Although they would certainly be out-coached in that game, their pass rush might perplex the second year Patriot quarterback in his first playoff game. Further, the Patriot running attack is not overwhelming, ranked ninth in the NFL, and they will not be very likely to take advantage of another Steeler weakness.
A win over the Patriots would leave the Steelers as one of four teams left in the AFC playoffs. The prognosticator headlines then read “Surprising Steelers Need a Miracle”. But who knows? Maybe in Big Ben’s final days a miracle of two may come forth. Enjoy the rest of the football season!
Bill Dick is a sports enthusiast who has his fingers crossed that his beloved Steelers won’t let him down.