I know what you ‘re thinking, and yes, I do think Andrian Peterson’s ankle injury is behind him and will not keep him out of this week’s game. Toby has been a great back up, but I gotta get Peterson back if I want a chance at winning this thing.
Ahh fantasy football…How wonderful it is that you distract me from all of the horrible things happening with the Steelers right now. I want so badly to be confident this week. After all, the Ravens are playing the Chargers. This is actually a game the Ravens could lose. Just think about how awful it would be if the Ravens lost on Sunday and then the Steelers lost on Monday. What a devastating blow!
So, I propose this about that: Just focus in on the Fantasy Football playoffs!`You can even play for pride in the ESPN league. They set you up with an opponent for the final weeks of the season, and give you full access to the Waiver Wire, even if you’re in dead last week one of the playoffs. Thankfully, I am currently #1 in my league with all my musician friends. Not so hard to beat a bunch music nerds in a fantasy football league. I’m definitely using it as a distraction.
Big Ben is not doing too awesome with this high ankle sprain. He is a man among boys when it comes to fighting through injury, but the way he was limping around the field, I doubt he plays Sunday if he doesn’t at least practice today. Obviously James is suspended, and Troy, Pouncey and others could be out this Monday night.
Tomlin always says the Standard is the Standard, but when is being severely out-manned ever going to count for something? If all the question marks go south on Monday, the 49ers will be playing against a serious “B-team” of players. As we all know, winning right now is imperative in order to avoid the scenario described above. So how do the Steelers beat the 49ers with wounded soldiers?
Well, first and foremost, they need to play a perfect game. They can’t have the same mistakes they’ve made the past few games with all the turnovers. Think about it. Hines and Heath both had fumbles last week, and they’re supposed to be our reliable, go-to guys. We will not beat the well-coached 9ers if we lose the turnover margin. We just won’t. These guys are already number one in the turnover differential. We have to protect the football, and minimize the penalties on offense. If Pouncey is out, that probably means a hefty dose of #68, which probably means a hefty dose of false start penalties. Someone mentioned it on this blog the other day: When is enough going to be enough with Chris K? Dude is so bad.
Actually, Tomlin was asked about Chris’ frequent penalties in the press conference and Tomlin’s answer was about as blunt and serious of any answer I’ve heard him give. He pretty much said Chris will lose his chance to play if this keeps up. Well, I guess Tomlin is having trouble deciding what’s worse, false start penalties, or more sacks. Or maybe if Chris plays, we get both of those? Well, with Ben wobbling around on one foot, it’s important that Charlie Batch, the only other capable guy on the team to run the offense, is healthy.
The 49ers are an exciting story. From terrible to 10-3 with pretty much exactly the same team. Says a lot about that guy back there motivating his team. Yes, he may be eccentric. Yes, he may be a Harbaugh. Yes, he may be a dick in the hand shake department. Yes, he may be a little too animated for my taste.
Wait…what was I saying?
Oh yeah, they’re well coached. Well, there’s no denying that. They play smash mouth ball, and that’s something the Steelers can relate to. You don’t have such a drastic change in record unless something significant changes on a team and this team has something going for them much like the Denver Tebows do. They believe they can win and be contenders in this league, and they’re right.
Fortunately for us, the Steelers believe the same about themselves and should at least be able to put up a fight against the ‘9ers without some key players.
In some sick way, I almost like that the Steelers have been experiencing so much termoil this year. Regardless of all the crap, the injuries, the ugly games, suspensions etc, we’re still sitting at 10-3 and in position to make the playoffs or even win the division. The reason the Steelers are so effective in the playoffs is precicely because of their play in the regular season. Every team that plays the Steelers plays like it’s the Super Bowl. Beating the Steelers really means something, so teams bring it when they play the Black and Gold. Close games against teams like the Colts and the Cheifs may seem alarming to you, but they are incouraging to me. We won those games, despite the inspired play of our oppenents and (sometimes) the poor play of our own.
My point is, when you’re battle tested in the regular season and you have to win close games against teams that bring it every week, the playoffs just feel like another week in the NFL. Our guys have been there before, and regardless of the outcome of this week’s game, I can’t help but feeling like the Steelers will be just fine in the playoffs, even if they enter as the Wild Card.
Obviously, winning on Monday would be awesome considering it’s a big stage to play on MNF, and my mom is in town from Pittsburgh and will be joining my wife and I at the Steelers bar here in MN. If all the fans in Pittsburgh aren’t enough, at least we’ll have another 250 or so at the bar in Saint Paul.
So, let’s raise a glass to the toughest player in the NFL and hope Big Ben can pull a little more magic out of his injured self and slay the 49ers Monday night. I always work on the assumption that Big Ben will play, but a high ankle sprain is nothing to scoff at. If we seal the playoff deal this week (might actually have to root for the Patriots to beat the Tebows), I say proceed with caution. The playoffs is where we make the most noise. A Super Bowl re-match is well within reach, and I think our boys are going to be tasting it once week one in the playoffs hits.
follow me on Twitter at @AdamMeckler, I tweet a lot.
PS Anyone else see that Keisel interview where he was like, “yeah man, well, there’s always something up with Ben when we make our Super Bowl runs.” I think it aired right before the Browns game, and of course Ben destroyed his ankle. Be careful what you wish for I guess.