Here we are, sitting at 5-2 looking at a stretch of games that would make even the most confident person queasy. That’s right, it’s Patriots week, which means it’s time to put up or shut up. No one walks around talking about “not in this lifetime” when they talk about the Patriots beating the Steelers, except Anthony Smith of course (who?), mostly because the Steelers have really only beat the Patriots a couple of times in a while. One of those times was while Matt Cassel (who?) was behind center, and the other was to snap a long Patriots winning streak in Big Ben’s debut season.
Why so scared?
Well, the Patriots scare us for a number of reasons, I got to live one in person when I went the the Steelers/Patriots game last December in Pittsburgh. Tom Brady is good, his young WRs and TEs are good. His running back is good, but probably just because Brady is so good. Their defense is…just OK. Mostly, we’re scared because we’ve walked around talking about how we’re going to mess Brady up with our nasty pass rush and then we get embarrassed. If you have friends in Massachusetts like I do, you know what I’m talking about. They own us just about every time we play, no matter how good the Steelers are. That’s why so scared. And that’s why this game means so much when it comes to defining this team’s level of ability.
Thus far, the season has been a cakewalk in terms of schedule. This is the first time we really get to see what our boys are made of. The secondary will finally be tested, the run game will definitely be tested assuming Green-Ellis is healthy, and our coaching game will be tested. This is the game where we find out just how good (or bad) the Steelers are this season.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. One game doesn’t define a team. Well, no. That being said, an ugly loss to the Pats coupled with the near losses to bad teams (Jags, Colts) means disaster for our boys. However, a win, or a close game could mean worlds about what the Steelers we be able to do long-term. As I said last week, this could very well be a case of “peaked at the right time.” If the Steelers can win on Sunday, they’ll be well on the way to letting everyone know there’s another team people should be paying attention to out there.
Then there’s those pesky Ravens. They can play down to their competition too, I guess. It doesn’t matter how they play against anyone though, because the Ravens will always play the Steelers like it’s the Super Bowl. Not so unlike Cinci and the Browns, if the Ravens went 2-14 but the two games they won were against the Steelers, they’d feel like that’s a successful season. So, if the Steelers can go 2-0 over the next two weeks, a lot of people will be turning their heads and looking in the Steelers’ direction.
Of course, they must beat the Patriots first, which any rational human being would say is not a gimmie. Either way, if the Steelers can pull off a little magic this week, I’ll be convinced that they’re a team that go go deep in to the playoffs. After all, we’re all just after another Super Bowl ring.
So are the Steelers a good team? I know this is annoying, but I’m still undecided. The jury is out, but this game will let us know right where we’re at. I know we can beat them, because I’ve seen it happen. Still, it’s hard to get rid of that queasy feeling that keeps finding its way back in. It would give me great pleasure to see Tom Brady’s face all messed up from our Linebackers instead of seeing Ben’s nose broke again. If we can lay some hits on the guy who is pretty much the entire team, then we stand a pretty good chance. Needless to say, this is one of those games that could define a season. I hope we’re as prepared as the Patriots are sure to be.
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