There are many who would suggest that being 4-4 at this point in the season would be less than stellar. There are also many who would say that considering we didn’t have Ben Roethlisberger for four games that 4-4 is pretty darn respectable. The fact of the matter is that the first half of the Steelers’ 2015 season is in the books and Mike Tomlin faces arguably one his of most daunting coaching challenges.
Over the next nine weeks (Bye Week Included), the Steelers will face seven AFC opponents and one NFC opponent (Seattle). If this team is going to make the push to the playoffs that many assume it will then it has to start on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. The Steelers cannot afford a loss. It’s that simple.
They have already dropped four conference games and a fifth would deal a major blow to their postseason chances.
It’s easy to look at the schedule and circle three wins; two with Cleveland and one at a depleted Ravens’ team but those are divisional games. Those are always toss-ups regardless of records. You might also be penciling in a ‘W’ when Indianapolis comes to town but with the injuries and inconsistencies this team has who knows?
The good news for Tomlin and company is that the AFC is weak. They are one of just five teams at .500 or better so that bodes well and with all of those AFC games remaining they basically control their own destiny. With Le’Veon Bell lost for the season, more pressure will fall on the shoulders of Ben Roethlisberger and Bell’s replacement DeAngelo Williams.
What I find really interesting is that so many just a week ago looked at the loss in Kansas City as “no big deal.” The Chiefs have now won two straight and are far from out of it so I really hope that loss isn’t the one that comes back to bite the Steelers come January.
After two 8-8 seasons and an early exit at home in the playoffs, Mike Tomlin is under the microscope. Injuries are always an excuse but Tomlin himself never uses them as a crutch. Getting this team to the playoffs may be his finest achievement as the boss of the Steelers considering everything they’ve dealt with so far.
Conversely, not making the playoffs will not sit well anyone either. Such is the life of an NFL coach.
photo courtesy pennlive.com