First Round Bye On Steelers Christmas List

Lost in my disgust over Sunday’s disappointing performance against the vastly overrated New York Jets is the news the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to the playoffs.   Yes, Virginia, there is a post-season.  And the Black and Gold have clinched a berth.  Sure it’s only a Wild Card but would you rather be the Chargers?

Of course, the Steelers can upgrade their ticket considerably over the next couple weeks.  The second overall seed and first round bye are both still well within reach with bottom-feeders Cleveland and Carolina on the schedule.  Given the number of injuries this team has suffered, I believe a bye is necessary if we intend to make any noise in the post-season.  Most notably is Troy Polamalu, who according to various reports is going to miss the rest of the regular season.

Looking around the AFC, the Colts and Jags both have six losses.  The Chiefs only have five losses but all are in the AFC.  The Steelers conference record is 8-3 with only one conference game left to play.  So unless the Steelers completely crap out the rest of the season, it wouldn’t appear any of those teams are in the hunt for the second seed.

The Baltimore Ravens appear to be the only obstacle standing between us and that bye.  The Ratbirds final two opponents are the Browns and Bengals.  I don’t foresee Cleveland putting up much of a fight but the Bengwads may show one fleeting moment of pride and try to send long time coach Marvin Lewis out a winner.  Remember how the Steelers, mired in a miserable post-Super Bowl funk, ruined Cincy’s playoff chances the final week of 2006 with a win in Bill Cowher‘s swan song as head coach?

Speaking of Cowher, rumors are swirling our beloved former leader is finally ready to come out of retirement. His wish list?  The Giants, Dolphins, or Texans.  All three teams make sense for different reasons and I’ll have more thoughts about his new situation once he makes a decision.  While I certainly hope he succeeds wherever he goes (unless, of course, he plays the Steelers), I need to point out neither Jimmy Johnson, Bill Parcells, nor Mike Holmgren have won a Super Bowl since leaving their original teams.  It’s never the same the second time around.

What’s the saying about be careful what you wish for?

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  • zam

    I don’t know if I can stand the thought of Cowher coaching another team. I have the utmost respect for the man and what he stands for…I wish he’d just remain a commentator.

    • chris

      I know how you feel. But I guess I can live with him coaching a team like the Giants or Texans. I was always worried he’d sell out and go to like the Cowboys or something which would have really upset me.

      I can’t begrudge him a big payday but I wish he’d remain commentator, too. As I noted, big famous coaches don’t usually recapture the same magic (although Parcells and Holmgren hardly failed) and I would prefer the last memory of Cowher the coach being guy who finally won the Lombardi here than some overpaid schmuck who lost in the AFC divisionals with the Texans two years in a row.

  • Smoking Tire

    I am generally a big worrier when it comes to my boys in black & gold, and I have to say I’m a little concerned about our next 2 games. The Precedence? Look no further than last year. We had a cakewalk of a schedule and took a ride on the mediocrity train for 5 weeks when we could have secured the playoffs. That journey was taken without Troy P and Smith, and our D couldn’t hold a lead late in games. This will likely be Fox’s last year in Carolina, so I could see those guys killing themselves to give their coach an upset worthy send off themselves.

    Don’t play conservative – I’m looking at you BA and your play calling. Go out and play like your lives depend on it. Because they do. We need that first round bye to get everyone healthy.

    • Bill

      Great point Tire. Last years is a modern day example of how NOT to make the playoffs. Not that we took teams lightly during that 5 game stretch but that we lost games we should have won though many factors. The injury to Troy being number 1 in my book. That man even if he doesn’t make a play changes the way offenses play against us making opportunities for others to come up big. So far this year we have wond the games we were really supposed to (yes most of the year we were picked to lose against the Jets). The last two games this year are very winable and could make or break the post season depending on how much rest we can get our slew of walking wounded. BA needs to sitck with what works.

  • jayman419

    Briefly mentioned in the article was Coach Cowher’s alleged wish list. I’d like to say that I really want Cowher to go to Cleveland.

    The dirty birds never filled the void left in my heart after Cleveland got jobbed by the league. The Browns are a proud team, with a pedigreed past and an increasingly bright future. During the days when our rivalry mattered, they were different than Ravens games are now. Sure, we hung effigy’s of their quarterback along their bus route, but it was part of the pageantry rather than any deep sense of dislike. That’s not the case with the Ravens. We pay lip service to one another, but there is a lot of animosity in our new relationship with the former Browns.

    But back in Cleveland, they’ve got a QB who can be an excellent game manager, they’ve got a running back who looks like he’s got a few good years in him, and their defense has its bright moments. While there’s a lot of room for improvement in all three phases, this is a team with a lot of potential as well.

    As much as Pittsburgh has been defined by its defense, the Chin, a former defensive player himself, has actually defined his work by sticking to the power run game, winning time of possession, and fielding a fresh defense all day long. I think that plan, vigorously applied, could work in Cleveland.

    So while I’d hate to see the Chin stalking opposite our sideline twice a year, I really think Cleveland, and especially the long-suffering Cleveland fans (who continue to sell out the stadium despite their terrible on-field product), deserve a better coach than Mangina, someone who has the authority to change the culture back to an expectation of winning any given game.