It’s hard to imagine that our beloved Steelers are sitting at 1-2, and may be facing a must win situation this Sunday against the Eagles. It’s even harder to think that in week 5 you have a must win game period. The proverbial “there’s a lot of football left” adage does indeed still ring true, but digging yourself out of a potential 1-3 hole is not exactly confidence inspiring to say the least.
If you’re one of those fans that likes to look ahead during the NFL season; calculating the probability of what seed the Steelers can potentially get in the playoffs, then you’re probably not a happy camper right now. Heck, let’s face it, none of our regardless.
There are several good options on the web that calculate NFL teams probability at making the post season each week. For the Steelers, it’s not exactly looking all that great right now so maybe this game coming up is indeed a must win. Before we jump into the divisional outlook just take a gander at PlayoffStatus.com, and you’ll see that the Steelers have a 78% chance of not making the playoffs. Or if you’re a “glass is half full” kind of person, then they have a 22% chance of qualifying for the post season. Either way you look at it, it’s not good. Sure there’s still plenty of time to get on a hot streak, after all they haven’t even played any divisional games yet. No better time than the present though.
Now that we’re finished with week 4, the Steelers are in 3rd place behind the 3-1 Ravens and 3-1 Bengals. The Browns, well, they’re the Browns just like usual. The Dawg Pound is 0-4 and even though they’ve been keeping their contests interesting, our focus is clearly on the other two teams in the division.
In week 5 the Ravens travel to the 1-3 Chiefs. Kansas City is ranked 4th overall in offense and 2nd in rushing; however their defense is middle of the pack. Certainly playing at ArrowHead is no easy task for any visitor and this game is far from a lock for Baltimore but banking on a Chiefs win isn’t going to help you sleep any better this week.
The Bengals are at home against the 1-3 Dolphins this Sunday. Miami’s offense is 9th overall and their defense is 16th in the league; which is right in line with the Bengals who are 10th and 19th overall respectively. Cincy is coming off a 27-10 win against the hapless Jaguars, and in week 3 a win over the Redskins. You can make the case that maybe the guys in stripes haven’t really played anyone, but at home you have to think they’ll find a way to pull it out.
Assuming the Ravens and Bengals both win, Pittsburgh simply must beat the Eagles this weekend at Heinz Field. They’ve already lost 2 conference games (Broncos & Raiders), and even though the Eagles are an NFC opponent you still don’t want to try and climb out of a 1-3 hole in such a tough conference.
Philadelphia is coming off an emotional victory against the Giants on Sunday night; and at 3-1 they are gaining confidence by winning close games and must be taken seriously. Michael Vick has a knack for turnovers this season, which has been a big problem in all of their games so far but they are still finding ways to win, even if it is ugly. They are certainly capable of putting up points and moving the ball on long drives in clutch situations, like we saw against the Ravens earlier this year for example. With a 1 game lead over the rest of the division they are in a prime position to build on that momentum. It’s up to Pittsburgh to find a way to stop them.
Certainly our Steelers are more than capable of putting up points though too; they sit currently at #3 in the NFL in passing offense. Ben Roethlisberger has been playing at an elite level this season and the weapons in his arsenal are second to none. This game will come down how well the Steelers defense can slow down LeSean McCoy and contain Michael Vick. Accomplishing both of those tasks would almost ensure a win, but at least taking care of 1 will greatly increase their chances.
I don’t know about you but the offense of the Steelers is the least of my concerns; let’s just hope the defense has found a way to right the ship. With Troy Polamalu on track to play on Sunday and James Harrison back at practice, it’s time to see what this team can really do.
Perhaps this game is not a must win for you, but for me it’s looking more and more that way.