I’ve been asked by a couple of Steelers’ fans if this game in Buffalo this week has the potential to be a letdown or trap game by the Steelers. Let’s put it this way; if the Steelers do lose it damn well better not be because they’re looking past the Bills.
At 7-5 and tied with the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North, it isn’t like the Steelers have any room for error. The Bills are in an even more desperate situation at 6-6. They are a game behind the Miami Dolphins and several behind the New England Patriots. A division title for the Bills is out of the question and a wild-card berth is going to be equally as difficult. Look at the teams in the AFC West and likely the wild-cards are spoken for already.
The bottom line? The Steelers have no business looking past this opponent.
Buffalo is fighting for it’s survival and Rex Ryan may in fact be fighting for his job in Buffalo and likely for his head coaching career. After stints in New York and now Buffalo, if he doesn’t make the playoffs there’s a good chance he doesn’t get another crack at being an NFL head coach. What that means is that this is a desperate team.
Desperate teams do things that other teams must be prepared for in return. Fake punts, fake field goals, going for it on fourth down in situations where they otherwise would not…. The mere thought that the Steelers would go into Buffalo unprepared or unfocused is disturbing. In my mind, the Steelers are in the playoffs right now.
Mathematically, they can afford to lose a game as long as they beat Baltimore on Christmas Day. But wouldn’t you think the Steelers learned a valuable lesson after needing help (from Buffalo no less) to get into the postseason after their own failings last year?
Furthermore, after road wins at Cleveland and Indianapolis, there’s still some questions about the Steelers’ abilities to win tough games on the road. A win over a team fighting for survival would speak volumes about just where this Steelers’ team is in 2016. But again, the idea that this team would have a letdown-type of performance is troubling. It isn’t that I can’t see it happening, it’s that there’s no way in hell it should.
Photo courtesy buffalobills.com