In Mike Tomlin’s weekly Tuesday press conference he confirmed that Charlie Batch is the starter and they are preparing for the Chargers with that mentality. Ben Roethlisberger threw what Tomlin described as “successfully” on Monday and they will continue to evaluate his progress during practice this week and see what happens. While he didn’t officially give a status for Ben other than that, but we can probably say that he is questionable at this point.
Right now the Steelers are in the driver’s seat, fully in control of their post season possibilities. They may not be guaranteed a division win right now but considering the roller coaster season they’ve been on, they can’t ask for much more at this point.
With 3 of the final 4 games at home, Mike Tomlin can afford to sit Ben Roethlisberger for another week or two if he so chooses. Charlie Batch has proven again that he is able to lead this team when called upon; it may not be perfect but he can make enough plays to keep the team going until Ben is able to return.
You don’t want a rusty Ben heading into the playoffs though, so getting him back before the post season is still going to be high on the priority list. If that has to be after the San Diego game or after the Dallas game, it’s not the end of the world. The defense is playing well enough, as is the running game under Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman to help carry the team.
Should the Steelers win out they are guaranteed the 6th seed at worst, potentially the 5th seed if the Colts falter in their final 4 games, and of course the division crown is dangling out there, although it’s a reach to say the least.
Even with tough games against Washington, the Giants (H), Denver (H), and the Bengals, the Ravens still have the better division and conference record. If Pittsburgh wants a chance at the AFC North title they basically have to finish one game better than Baltimore. Anything can happen and certainly situations can change in December, so for Pittsburgh they just need to keep on winning as much as possible.
The Chargers are coming in at 4-8, and while mathematically still alive for a post season berth, they are hardly looking like or playing like a team fighting for anything more than their jobs next season. The Broncos have already taken the AFC West but the Steelers still must be wary of San Diego.
This is a conference game and having lost already to Oakland, Tennessee, and Cleveland, you don’t want to give up another AFC contest. Even with that scenario on the table, Charlie Batch should be able to hold down the fort against the Chargers 21st ranked pass defense.
The following game is on the road against the Cowboys, currently 6-6 and fighting for the division with the Redskins and Giants.
If the Steelers are going to lose any of their final 4 games, this would be the one they could afford to drop. It’s an NFC contest, and they would still have the Bengals up the following week. You don’t want to lose any, heading into the playoffs on a 5 game win streak would be ideal, but the key contest in this stretch is clearly Cincinnati in week 16.
With the Bengals nipping at the Steelers’ heels, they must win stay in contention for the playoffs and win that game to ensure that the Bengals don’t leap frog them at the last minute.
So many things can and usually do happen but if Pittsburgh takes care of their own business they’ll be playing in January and hopefully with a healthy, efficient Ben Roethhlisberger.