To Playoffs or Not to Playoffs, that is the question for the Steelers!
The final two games of the regular season are upon the Pittsburgh Steelers. And they are potentially on the verge of a playoff berth, provided the stars,planets, and moon all align, but of course, that means that the Steelers need to win out!
Given that the Steelers are currently “In the Hunt” but basically on the outside looking into the playoffs. What with the two devastating losses to the Cardinals and then to the Patriots in successive weeks. The win last week to the rival Bengals only makes this cut a little deeper. Let me bend your eyes for a moment.
On the weekend of Thanksgiving, the Steelers had just defeated the Bengals for the first time this season and, at 7-4, had a good hold on not only a playoff berth but even potentially the division. It was the first game since Matt Canada had been fired, and the team put up 421 yards in that win against Cincinnati. Everything and everyone was riding that high of Victory Formation!
The next two games are against opponents that have a combined 4-20 record this season in the NFL. Kenny Pickett was to lead the team against two teams that had a suspect defense and could only muster four wins between the two teams all year to this point. There was confidence abounded in press conferences, and some help was returning on defense for these next two games, and that is when the tires came off.
The Arizona Cardinals came into Pittsburgh for a homecoming game for James Connor. That is just what happened, as James Conner put up over 100 yards rushing and scored a touchdown to cap off the fact that Kenny Pickett went down with an ankle injury, and Mitch Trubisky had to come in and mop up literally. Pittsburgh did what they could least afford to do: lose to a 2-10 team.
If that was not a bed of roses, how about if they go from bad to worse when the Patriots opened a can of whoop-ass on the Steelers in front of a home crowd. The Steelers have dropped another game to a 2-10 team this season in back-to-back weeks. Of all the things that the team could ill afford to do was lose two games in a row to two teams going the opposite direction this year. Can I put my finger on the facts as to what led to these losses today? Well, how about a defense that gave up considerable yardage and points?
Not only did they allow for a 100-yard rusher one week and a 240-yard passer the following week, but they also gave up 51 points to two of the lowest-rated offenses in the league. These two games, by far, were the worst performances by the Steelers this season, from special teams to coaching, to the offense or lack thereof.
Just when you thought, alright, there is no way that the Steelers could drop three in a row after losing to two 2-10 teams in back-to-back weeks, right? Well, that is precisely what happened as the Colts proceeded to dismantle the Steelers as they dropped their third game in a row to the Colts 13-30. In case you are counting, and I am, that is 81 points that this defense gave up in three weeks, and as far as I am concerned, it does not matter that your offense is impotent, but your defense is not even able to stop the lowest ranked offenses in the league.
Now, just a few days before kick-off of the final two games of the regular season for the Steelers, the team is not in control of their own destiny when they had it in their grasp only a few short weeks ago. Because of these losses, this team needs a lot of help even to get a chance at the playoffs this year. Not to mention that this team needs to find away to win the final two games against the Seahawks, who are also 8-7, and then finally, the Ravens, who are the number one seed in the AFC.
Only a few short weeks ago, these games looked winnable, or at least one of them did. Now, with Kenny Pickett coming back from injury and Mason Rudolph having been the best quarterback of the Steelers season by a long margin in the win against the Bengals, If it were up to me, I would run with the “Hot Hand” and start Mason. At this point, you have nothing to lose and only a playoff berth to gain! Let Kenny sit another week and be 100% healthy, and let’s see what Mason can do against the Seahawks this Sunday.