While I have tried to be the voice of optimism over the last few weeks, we certainly have to be a bit concerned about where our season is going. The thing of it is, we are at a fork in the road. The December Fork. The question is, what road will we take? Lets examine the roads we HAVE taken, and see where each one will lead. This is the month where the season is decided
The Steelers over the last 4 years have won two Super Bowls. But they also have had two somewhat let-down-like seasons, back to back in 2006 and 2007.
However, we know, above all, that December determines where you land in the postseason picture. Good news for us is, we usually tend to finish strong. Lets look at some of our previous november/december periods. I want to mainly focus on the last 4 games of the season being the most important.
In 2005, we had a bit of a rough November. We went 2-3 if you include the very first december game (we had a January first that year). The team was in question at 7-5. However, they would go on to win their next 4, marching into the playoffs triumphant at 11-5 and winning out as we know.
In 2006, November was, again, a bit of a brutality. 2-2, with pastings from Baltimore and Denver. This season, we also finished very strong, and regained our peak form. Going 4-1 in December. Unfortunately, we were just one win shy of making the playoffs. I tend to write this season off due to injury, but we can see that once the team got healthy, they cleaned house down the stretch.
In 2007, we did a bit of the opposite. We came into December having won 3-1 in November. But in December, we folded like an origami swan, going just 2-3. Stumbling into the playoffs, we found ourselves at a loss against Jacksonville, despite nearly winning that game anyway.
And in 2008, we showed our true best. Just one loss in November, and a bit of a throw-away game loss in December to the Ten'Teeth Titans.
So what is my point? In our two super bowl years, we finished strong in December. This time, we really cant afford a loss. The only one we might be able to concede is to the Packers, depending on how things play out.
We can take the 2007 road in this December fork, and fall apart and sit and watch the playoffs on TV. Or we can take the road we've taken the other 3 years, and go out and take some names. I personally feel if we made the playoffs in 2006 we could have gotten at least to the AFCCG, as that year was a bit weak overall. Fortunately, we are in no more of a hole than we were in 2005 and 2007. We CAN win out.
I also feel its good to note that Tomlin has seen this situation before. He was there for the 07 meltdown at the end, and for the 2008 charge forward into the postseason. Hopefully, he knows what needs to be done to make sure we repeat last years late season performance.
We have the perfect schedule to do so, mostly soft teams, and Baltimore at home.
The season is not over, really, it is just beginning. Even the Titans have a shot at the playoffs. Who would have thought!? Lets watch December with an eager expectation of things to come.