The Steelers went on the road on Sunday afternoon and came out of Atlanta with a victory, breaking their streak of two consecutive 8-8 seasons.
The win improved the team to 9-5 and should they win out, they will win the division and host a home game in the divisional playoff round. If they slip up and lose one of the next two, there is a good chance they won’t make the playoffs. Or they’ll at least need to rely on other teams for help; something they had to do last season and it didn’t pan out.
The next two games are at home, which is always a good thing but they are against two quality opponents, the Chiefs and Bengals; both of whom are in the thick of the playoff chase.
The Steelers have played well against the good teams this year but do I trust them yet when everything is on the line?
Offensively, I think I can say I do. Hard not to trust the Killer B’s with Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Big Ben Roethlisberger. The receiving corps is deep and the team can put up 25-35 points in any given game against any given defense.
I’m still not sold on the offensive line as I believe they are capable of crumbling at any given moment, look no further than the Jets game a few weeks back. I’m also leery of the backup running back situation. Sure, Bell is one of the best, if not the best, running back in the game. But should he get hurt or need a breather, does the team have a guy who can spell him? They really don’t. So his health and durability is of the utmost importance.
Defensively I have no trust in them at all. It’s still hard to believe that I can write that and mean it but it’s the hard reality.
It mainly boils down to the secondary. Matt Ryan, without his best weapon, Julio Jones, still torched the secondary for over 300 yards on Sunday afternoon. Playoff quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck will drop 450 yards on this secondary in a heartbeat.
But it’s not all on the guys in the back, the front seven need to get to the quarterback and they can’t do it. Again on Sunday they came away with no sacks (Though Jason Worilds was robbed of one by the officials).
They barely pressured the quarterback and they didn’t knock him around like the steel curtains of old. Winning the turnover margin on Sunday 1-0 was huge and having a defensive touchdown scored was the difference in the game but at the end of the day, I don’t trust these guys to make a stop in crunch time and I still feel everything rests with the offense.
Lastly, the coaching isn’t good, period. So I don’t trust any of them. It’s funny how the roller coaster season of wins and losses causes the fan base to go up and down with the team and their thoughts on the players, coaches, management etc.
At the end of the day, this staff isn’t good enough to call them a quality group. They still haven’t proven capable of making adjustments in game or even preparing a good enough game plan in advance of the game. The discipline on this team is still lacking and that comes from the top and when it comes down to this staff vs. Andy Reid and his staff next week or even Marvin Lewis and his staff the following week, I’d take the other guys. Painful to say, even more painful to read but it’s reality.
That all said, somehow, someway, this team has nine wins and control their own destiny. Can they win out? Sure, they can. Do I trust that they will? No, unfortunately I don’t.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association www.steelnationassociation.com- Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.