There are two weeks to go in the season. Everyone is fighting for playoff positioning. The Texans, Pats and Broncos are all wanting to win their last two games to avoid playing a first round game and to get home field for the second round.
The Giants and Bears, the defending Super Bowl Champs and a team that started off 7-1 are fighting to win both games to make the playoffs. Giants win both and they are in, one of those games is against the Ravens. With the Steelers loss on Sunday, Baltimore backed into the playoffs. Losers of 3 in a row, looking at playing a Giants team who is used to being in a win and in position.
That leads me to our Steelers..... We control our destiny. The ball is in Ben's hands. We do not have to hope someone loses to make the playoffs, all we have to do is win. That is it! Both of those games are in Heinz Field, both of those games are against teams Ben plays well against.
Do we face obstacles? Sure, we need some DBs to step up and play well. We will need the OL to control the Bengals defensive line, make some room for Dwyer and keep Ben up. However, if I told you at the beginning of the year, we win our last two games we will make the playoffs and possibly win the division, not many of you would have walked away from that scenario!
As for winning the division...... I am growing more confident by the week we will win it. Two weeks ago, I figure the Ravens were a bad team, but should be able to go into Washington and have Flacco throw the ball around on that defense. What happened? Cousins leads the Redskins on a last minute drive, makes a 2pt conversion, gets them to OT where the Ravens fall apart. They proceed to implode, fire Cameron (something that should have been done long ago, but not now, not in the middle of a losing streak) and then get creamed in Baltimore to the Broncos. This week, they are facing a Giants team needing a win to make the playoffs.... I am not a betting man, but if I were it is easy to see which team I would figure has the ability to bounce back best.
That leaves the Bengals..... Believe it or not, losing to the Cowboys last weekend might have helped us in the long run. If we win this weekend and Baltimore loses, then Cincinnati would still be able to make the playoffs by beating the Ravens in Ohio and having the Steelers lose to the Browns..... If we had won last weekend, and beat the Bengals next, it would be over, the Bengals would have been eliminated and would have nothing to play for the last week of the season. With the possiblity of getting into the playoffs, the Bengals might play inspired in the first half, jump up on the Ravens while watching the scoreboard hoping the Browns beat the Steelers. If both the Bengals and Steelers win, the Pittsburgh Steelers will win the AFC North!
Things are not as bleak as many experts are making them seem to be. Sure, we might have some problems, but if this team can get healthy on defense before the playoffs starts, what team would want to play them......
I will end with this..... After the Steelers won the Super Bowl against the Seahawks, I was looking forward to meeting Hines in Disney (as I was employed there at the time). Disney employees are instructed to not be fans or bother stars when they are on property, but we are all people and get excited seeing celebrities. After getting to say hi to Hines, I walked around a group of people with Steelers gear on (we were not in a public space, we were all waiting for the parade to start). I came up behind one person who was slightly bent over, I put my right hand on his shoulder, leaned in and said, "admit it, he were worried when Ben threw the pick in the 3rd." Now, I had no idea at all to whom I was speaking to, I just knew he had to be a Steelers fan and I want to get to talk to someone about the Steelers!
Well, this man stands up, turns around with this glow on his face. He extends his hand, looks me dead in the eye and says, "you didn't lose faith, did ya." I quickly took his hand and shook it, and even though I was much taller than he, I could not get over the size of his hand! I was stunned for a second, but eventually I got out, "it is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Bettis, but I have to admit, I was a bit nervous when that Seahawk was running down the sidelines." We were still shaking hands, he was laughing at what I was saying, and when I finished talking he told me, never lose faith.
I will be honest, those few moments have served me well. Especially during the Super Bowl against the Cardinals..... That whole last drive, I kept telling my wife, never lose faith.