The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped to 5-5 with their loss on Thursday Night Football and now have an uphill climb to make the playoffs. They are still technically in the hunt to get a playoff spot, but the loss was a crushing blow to their chances.
Let’s break down four reasons the team’s season will end on December 29th.
The Steelers schedule going forward on paper doesn’t look all that bad, but there aren’t many automatic wins (besides maybe against the Cincinnati Bengals).
To make the playoffs they probably can’t lose more than one or two games and with that schedule, it’s going to be really tough. If the Steelers would have won their game on Thursday night, the conversation about the playoffs would be completely different.
Starting with Big Ben’s injury in Week 1, the Steelers have been banged up all season and that is going to hamper them from making the playoffs.
James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster seem to get banged up almost every game and there is no way the Steelers can count on them to stay healthy for the stretch run of the playoffs. Backup running back Benny Snell is also expected to be out another couple of weeks and the depth of this team isn’t as strong as years past.
Maurkice Pouncey is also suspended three games for his role in the Myles Garrett fiasco from Thursday Night Football and that is going to really hurt this team. He is one of the best centers in all of football and losing him is a big loss to the offensive line.
The Steelers want to focus on football going forward but the incident against the Cleveland Browns is going to continue to hang over their head.
They want to focus on football, but the questions the next couple of weeks are going to be about Rudolph being hit in the head with the helmet.
It’s going to be tough for the team to refocus after this, and that ultimately could cost this team a game.
1. Mason Rudolph
Mason Rudolph is an okay backup quarterback, but it’s clear that he isn’t the long-term option going forward once Big Ben decides to hang up the cleats.
Against the Browns, Rudolph looked lost, throwing for only 221 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. His passer rating for the game was only 35.3.
Even in the games the Steelers won with Rudolph under center, he wasn’t really dynamic. At best he is a game manager and at worst he is one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league.
For the Steelers to win games going forward, it’s going to be the defense that needs to do the heavy lifting because the offense can’t move the ball.
Sorry Steelers fans, maybe next year when Big Ben is back you will make the playoffs again, but this year it’s not happening.