Every team has a good reason for making the playoffs in the NFL right? Let’s take last year’s worst team, the Washington Football team, for example. Washington had a top 3 defense in the league last year led by Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Playing in the NFC East, Washington were able to sneak into the playoffs with a losing record. They put up one hell of a fight against the G.O.A.T and his Buccaneers, starting a quarterback who had never stepped foot on an NFL field. Many people thought that the Football Team was going to get blown out, but it came down to the last possession. Heck, their defense didn’t even play that great to make it get to that stage. Point is, whether fans like it or not, every team is deserving of their spot in the postseason. Are there teams who didn’t make that deserve it more? Sure. But, it doesn’t always end up that way.
This year, the presumably worse team competing in the playoffs are the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yep, the same Steelers who would be going home with Big Ben after his Monday Night Finale at Heinz Field. With the Raiders and Chargers avoiding a tie, Pittsburgh punched their ticket into the playoffs. That being said, their first matchup takes them down to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs Sunday Night. Pittsburgh will be major underdogs, as they have not looked competitive to any team of the Chiefs caliber whatsoever. Big Ben, in his final ride, hasn’t been able to throw the ball deep this year, and has stuck mostly to quick out routes, or check downs to rookie Najee Harris. He himself was brutally honest about their chances at Arrowhead, but there is a way the Steelers can pull off this upset.
1. Get turnovers near Kansas City’s side of the field
The Steelers defense is what has carried them through thick and thin this year. Led by sack leader T.J. Watt, they have not shown a sign of slowing down this year. When they played the Chiefs earlier this season, though, that defense had just disappeared. Not scoring until they were down 30 points, this game was over the second the whistle blew. Pittsburgh’s defense played with no confidence, letting Mahomes & Co. do whatever they wanted. To get a win in the playoffs, they are going to have to carry the offense once again. And by doing that, they must force turnovers near field goal range. If Big Ben can get a few first downs and set Chris Boswell up for a manageable make, the Steelers can get some points on the board quickly, which will be crucial. We saw during the middle of the season how vulnerable this Chiefs offense can get, so why not pressure them with all the talent Pittsburgh has?
2. Offensive Creativity
With the way Kansas City’s defense turned it around mid-season, Matt Canada has got to become more creative. While the Steelers run out routes to perfection, it’s not going to work all game. Big Ben is going to need to get out of his comfort zone, and make some of those 25, 30 yard throws. This team put up 13 points against the Lions in overtime. KC’s offense is putting up at least 20. If Big Ben can;t throw the ball deep, call some screens for Najee Harris or Diontae Johnson. Anything that gets this offense positive yardage fuels the rest of the drive. Looking back at the game at Kansas City earlier this year, the Chiefs pretty much had everything covered as far as what Pittsburgh ran.
Hearing what Big Ben has said over the years, it’s safe to say that we shouldn’t take his conference seriously. He’s been an underdog, and knows what it’s like to be in these situations. The only con about what he said is that it could catch up to his teammates. The younger guys, like Najee Harris, have to have confidence in order to succeed in this game. Arrowhead Field is one of the toughest places to play in the league, and you don’t stand a chance there without believing in your side. Big Ben knows there’s a chance, Mike Tomlin knows there’s a chance, but the young need to know that too.
This article might age very poorly, but this Steelers team might just shock the world on Sunday. Send the 2 time defending AFC Champs home and keep Big Ben’s career afloat. Can it happen? Of course. Will it happen? It’s up to Big Ben and that offense.
Top Photo: Emilee Chinn- Getty Images