The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, in which they entered with big aspirations, in spite of a tumultuous start to the offseason. Significant players were lost via trade and free agency, players who have helped shape the course of the franchise in recent years. We even now sit here without Ben Roethlisberger after just two games.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they have new starters. And quarterback was suddenly added to that list.
How will the season progress without Roethlisberger, behind Mason Rudolph? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in games? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will the Steelers be able to improve their divisional standings while idle this weekend?
The Steelers don’t play this week, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pick up ground against their AFC North rivals while sitting idle. Pittsburgh and the Cleveland Browns, both 2-4, are on their bye weeks, but the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals both play.
We, quite frankly, have no need to care about what the Bengals do, at least for now. They are 0-6 on the season and their roster is littered with injuries for today’s game, including both of their starting cornerbacks. But the 4-2 Ravens are obviously the team of interest.
And they are entering the toughest part of their schedule, so if the Steelers are going to gain ground, it will probably have to be at this time. The Ravens face the Seattle Seahawks today, I believe on the road, and the outcome of that game could be a big swing in the future of the division race.
Win, and they’re 5-2, three wins up over the Steelers and Browns. Lose, and they’re 4-3, just one game ahead in the loss column. And the Steelers have an easier part of their schedule coming up next, with the Miami Dolphins on deck after the bye.
The first six weeks of the season were tough sledding, no doubt, but by and large, they got through it, and are on an upward trajectory. In their last three games, they have won twice and were in position to win against the Ravens before Mason Rudolph was knocked out, and they ended up losing in overtime after JuJu Smith-Schuster uncharacteristically fumbled (two career fumbles in over 200 touches).