Hey, have you heard? Big Ben has a shoulder sprain. And a rib injury that is threatening to pierce his Aorta. The docs give him three weeks to heal up before he can start taking hits on the field again. That means he is at risk at not missing one, but both games against the Ravens. And, although I will be cheering my heart out (no pun intended) tonight like I do every week for my Steelers, it’s difficult not to think of where this team will be in the playoff hunt were they to fall both times to the Ravens…. again.
That puts the Steelers in a bit of a pickle in the AFC North were they to lose both times to the Ravens. If those two loses were the only ones the Steelers sustained from here on out, they will finish at 11-5. Not bad, and they have certainly made the playoffs with a record like this before. The Indy Colts are the only other team aside from the Steelers and divisional leaders that have a winning record in the AFC. That puts the Steelers in a comfortable spot to tie up a Wild Card slot. What it means is an away game and no bye. Bummer. But playoffs are the playoffs, right.
There is a scenario, however, that could the Steelers back into the drivers seat of the AFC North. It’s a bit of a long shot, but not entirely whacky to believe in. The Ravens, after facing the home and home with the Steelers go up against the Redskins, Giants, Broncos and Bengals. These are all potential loses for the Ravens. I see them struggling against the Giants and Broncos, and those are more likely where they could land in the ‘L’ column. The Steelers did a really good job of stopping RGIII of the ‘Skins, but I don’t see Baltimore having a better time with them. In fact, I see RGIII running wild against a Ravens defense that has struggled in that department.
Losing 3 of those 4 against those teams would put the Steelers at a tie with the Ravens with the Ravens taking the division with the better head to head record (all the more reason why the away game in Baltimore is so critical). Losing 4 of 4 (and suffering a very bad slide going into the playoffs) would put the Steelers back on top of the division with at least a home game in the playoffs. Yeah, not a likely scenario now that I put it down on paper, but it’s not entirely inconceivable.
I know. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s play tonight against the Ravens first before we get into all this crazy ‘what if’ talk. But, take heart Steeler Nation that even if we can’t beat the Ravens without Ben – there’s still a great chance of getting into the playoffs and a distant chance of still taking the AFC North. I’m sure the players realize this, which will put both of these games even more center stage than usual – if that is even possible.
Go get’em boys. Go Steelers.