Saturday, December 03, 2011

#232: Light Work Ahead for Steelers

---SSL Broadcast #70---

If the Steelers make the 2011 NFL Playoff field, whether or not they're able to win the AFC North, they're not playing a favorable warm-up schedule.

On one hand, this could be a good thing in order to get healthy; with a weaker schedule down the stretch, it will be less tempting to play the major players when a backup could be just as effective.

On the other hand, entering the playoffs after a relatively light schedule could be like playing the card game "War," then finding yourself in the finals of a poker tournament.

Cincinnati, this week's opponent, is certainly no pushover this season, but being at Heinz Field should help them get through this one. Cleveland twice and the St. Louis Rams at home should all be wins (if they're not, I will be forced to seriously question head coach Mike Tomlin's preparations). As for the currently 9-2 San Francisco 49ers, by the time that game rolls around, the 9ers will have wrapped up the NFC West and, likely, the number two seed in the NFC playoffs. They will have less to play for than Pittsburgh.

The Steelers need this schedule to have a chance to overtake Baltimore and win the the AFC North and, possibly, the top overall seed in the AFC. The light end-of-the-regular-season schedule - plus a bye week - could result in a shock once they would host their first opponent in this hypothetical situation.

Nothing short of convincing victories over the remaining slate of opponents should give Steeler fans confidence heading into the postseason.

On today's show:

- Lots of college football talk, particularly possible solutions (or starts of solutions) to the college postseason system.

- The Penguins remain in the top 10 most valuable franchises in the league.

- Maybe a Pitt loss to Syracuse wouldn't be all that terrible.

- A mistake, stating that Cincinnati and Louisville are playing today. As I write this, let me say they're not.

- Back to the usual on the NFL Picks after a 1-1 week last time out (11-12-1 overall).



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