We're all sitting here wondering whether or not the Steelers can still find a way into the playoffs. A lot needs to happen, but, fortunately, we're still alive. And though it's wildly fun to talk about what needs to happen with other teams, Pittsburgh's got two very, very tough games left on the schedule - Baltimore and at Cincinnati.
In thinking about the Steelers' chances in those two games, I kept coming back to one thought: "Willie's gotta have a good game." And that led me to another thought - more of a question, really: "How predictive is Willie Parker's performance, in terms of a Steeler win or loss?"
As it turns out, quite predictive:
Notice anything? I'm sure you see what I see: to the extent that teams successfully stop Willie Parker, they increase their chances of beating Pittsburgh. Jacksonville, San Diego, Atlanta, Oakland, Cleveland (away), Baltimore and Tampa Bay all held Willie to less than four yards per carry. The Steelers got victories at Cleveland (and were fortunate to do so) and Tampa (an awful, awful team), but everyone else took down Pittsburgh. That's five of Pittsburgh's seven losses. In another of Pittsburgh's losses - Denver - Willie only got 14 carries. The Steelers seventh loss, at home to Cincinnati, actually featured a solid game from Parker. But the Steelers collapsed in that game and gifted the Bengals a win.
In any case, as we get prepped for these two final games, wave, wave, wave those terrible towels for Fast Willie Parker. Because what happens in games involving other teams is irrelevant if the men of the black and gold can't win their final two. And that, it certainly looks like, has everything to do with a good game from Parker.
|Opponent||Rushes||Yards||Yards per carry||TDs||Fumbles|
|@San Diego (L)||14||57||4.1||1||0|
|Kansas City (W)||21||109||5.2||2||2|
|New Orleans (W)||22||213||9.7||2||0|
|Tampa Bay (W)||22||61||2.8||0||0|