As I typically do on a weekday morning I turned on ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike’ at 6am and on this particular day I was greeted with both Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic praising our Pittsburgh Steelers as the one team “no one wants to play” in the playoffs. Greenie went so far as to declare that he thinks the Steelers will win in Cincinnati and will then go to Denver and beat the Broncos.
While I love the forward thinking and positive attention paid to the Steelers, the realist in me has to ask, “How well do these guys really know the Steelers?”
Since their second half surge at home against Denver, the Steelers really haven’t played all that well. The running game has been very inconsistent and Ben Roethlisberger will be the first to tell you the passing game hasn’t been as crisp as it could be. Now with DeAngelo Williams less than 100% and perhaps not even available Saturday night, this “team that no one wants to play” doesn’t look so daunting.
I know… I haven’t even mentioned the defense yet. This is a unit that finished as the 21st ranked defense in the league. Against the rush they finished a very respectable fifth and against the pass? They finished 30th. Again I ask these national experts, have you seen this team as much as we have? A week after giving up a career high in passing yards to Ryan Mallett, they gave up 240 to Austin Davis.
Granted, the 240 looks a lot better especially when you factor in the seven sacks but if the defense we saw in Baltimore shows up even A.J. McCarron will have a field day.
The Steelers are the flavor of the month for sports writers right now because of the “explosive offense.” Another example of this is from Andy Benoit of Peter King’s MMQB. He calls the Steelers the team “no one wants to play” but not just because of the offense but also because of a “creative defense.” Former Steelers’ writer and ESPN guru John Clayton is calling the Steelers “the most dangerous team in the AFC.”
So again I ask, what have these people been watching?I know I sound down on the team but they just haven’t shown me much the last two weeks. Don’t be fooled by that final score Sunday in Cleveland either. That game was much closer than most thought it would be and I guarantee you that includes many players.
The Steelers are more than capable of romping their way through the AFC Playoffs by scoring 30 points plus per game and forcing opposing offenses into field goals and turnovers but I’m just not buying they can do it consistently right now. The fact they are suddenly the national media’s darling, tells you all need to know about just how much they actually pay attention.
“The team no one wants to play” better show up on Saturday because if the one of the recent two weeks does it will one and down.