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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday thoughts

Everybody was back at practice today, leaving Marvel Smith as the only player out.

This team is getting healthy at just the right time.

Win this week and they get to play Cleveland's JV team next week in what will likely be treated like a preseason game. Starters play a half, get a big lead and take a seat.

Cleveland hasn't scored a touchdown in more than 200 offensive plays and won't likely do so against the Steelers, either.

One of the dumbest questions bandied about the locker room this week by my media brethren was why do the Steelers want the No. 1 seed?

Sure, the Steelers have lost four of their past five AFC Championship games at home, but that was with Bill Cowher as head coach.

Really, only a couple of those games were upsets.

And I was there for each one of Cowher's crushing moments.

In 1994, they were big favorites over an average San Diego team and choked.

In 1995, they struggled with an average Indianapolis team before pulling it out.

In 1997, Denver was a wildcard team, but went 13-3 in the regular season. One of those losses was to the Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium, but the Broncos were a very good team.

In 2001, the Patriots were big underdogs, but a couple of fluke plays got them a win. And as we would later find, the Patriots were pretty good - and also cheating.

In 2004, the Steelers took a rookie quarterback - albeit a good one - into an AFC title game against the aforementioned Patriots and lost again.

So of those four losses, three were against he eventual Super Bowl champion. The only team I see in these AFC playoffs that's capable of winning it all other than the Steelers is Indianpolis. And, as the No. 1 seed, if the Steelers play the Colts, it would likely be in the divisional round.


thomas said...

Another theory is that the defense is at a disadvantage on the homefield's turf. They are built for speed and function better on a better surface.

Ben said...

Thomas, not to be rude, but I really don't think that theory holds water. If anyone on the Steelers could benefit from a sloppy field, it's the defense. I'll go further - I would guess that the guys on defense love slopping around in the mud. Guys like Smith, Hampton and Farrior - real throwback football players - thrive in those conditions.

That said, and this is something that no one is talking about, Heinz Field looks about as good as it ever has. The field is all but pristine.

Not to mention 3 of the former AFC Championship games were played on the cement/turf at Three Rivers.

Dale Lolley said...

I wouldn't agree with that. They're 6-2 at home. The defense gave up five touchdowns in those two losses, but a lot of that was set up by offensive turnovers.
Wouldn't you rather see Indianapolis at Heinz Field in January when it's about 20 degrees and snowy?
I know the Colts can't host the Steelers, but home field advantage is just that, an advantage.

SC Steeler said...

Every single Steeler fan I talk to is of the opinion that the Steelers offense would have a much better chance if they opened up the no-huddle offense earlier in the game. Obviously, we have no clue what we're talking about, but why aren't they trying it any other time besides right before the halves? Are they just being conservative for the regular season and planning to open things up a bit in the playoffs? Our SB year's playoff success was predicated on Ben passing early to get a lead and then turning to the run.

Anonymous said...

I know Indy is dangerous and is one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now, but lets not overstate what they have done either.

In their last 5 games, the opponents have a combined record of 16 - 54. If you make it only 4 games, their opponents have less wins combined than we have.

Yes, they could come in and throw the ball over the field on us, but as far as I'm concerned the 2 teams to worry about the most are the Jets and Baltimore. The Ravens have played us close both times, and it is hard to beat a team 3 times in 1 year. The Jets are the one team in the conference left who can both run and throw on offense. That being said, if we get home field with a win on Sunday, I like our chances to play for the championship.

Anonymous said...

I'm not worried about the Jets at all. #4 will have a tough time at the end of the season and plus the cold goes right through him. Lets hope we get the JETS!

Dale Lolley said...

I expect both wildcards - I am assuming Baltimore and Indy - will win their first round games.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, all those years winning games in Green Bay prove he can't play in cold weather....

Lets look at the teams we could play in the playoffs:

Tennessee - We will see how we match up with them this week, but I don't think they are balanced enough offensively to beat us when it matters most.

Indianapolis - Very good run lately, but I don't see them coming into Pittsburgh and beating us again.

NY Jets - One of the more balanced teams remaining. Jones can run, and Farve can win in the cold. The real question with them is their D.

Baltimore - They have played us close 2x. I would rather not face them again.

Miami - Anyone here scared of the wildcat?

New England - Matt Cassell? Honestly, I have no fear about him.

Denver - Long shot to make it anyone and Cutler doesn't scare me.

Dale Lolley said...

Favre against this Pittsburgh D? He takes way too many chances and they'd make him pay.

Anonymous said...

Like I said. Bring on the JETS! Yes he won in Green Bay where it's cold... He is older and doesn't play so well in the cold anymore.
plus what we see this Sunday won't be the same team we see in the playoff's. They have some key guys missing this week. So if we walk in and slaughter them, I hope when we see them again we won't think the same out come will happen again.