Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told Tribune-Review reporter Alan Robinson the season may not hang in the balance of a victory Sunday when the Eagles come to Pittsburgh, but they "need to get a win."
It's still a marathon, Roethlisberger continued. If there was a time to make a move on the rest of the pack running that marathon, though, it's Sunday.
In what would be a particularly bad time to lose home field advantage, the Steelers are staring at the backsides of the Ravens and Bengals - both 3-1 - and a loss to the talented Eagles would drop them no better than two games behind the division leaders. Baltimore, in a rare early season road game, travel to struggling Kansas City, and the Bengals are host to the floundering Dolphins.
The Steelers, 1-0 at home, and 0-2 on the road, take on their best opponent to date in what seems like a must-win game to even their record over their opening quarter of the season. If there are must-win games in the first quarter of the season, this one is it.
The Eagles, on the other hand, lead the NFC East at 3-1 with the worst point differential (-17) as any division leader. In fact, they're only the fourth team in the last three decades to sit at 3-1 while scoring less points than it has allowed. Philadelphia is a team finding several different ways to win. The defense shined in a 19-17 win over the visiting Giants in Week 4, one week after suffering a 26-7 blowout at Arizona. They got a huge defensive effort in their front seven, and 156 receiving yards from tight end Brent Celek in a 24-23 win over Baltimore. In Week 1, Cleveland took them down to the wire, but pulled out a 17-16 win thanks to a complete and thorough hazing of rookie QB Brandon Weeden.
The Eagles have gotten production from its receivers in each of their first four games. In Week 1, it was Jeremy Maclin leading the team in yards, followed by Celek abusing Baltimore's linebackers in coverage in Week 2. DeSean Jackson held top honors in their loss at Arizona and against the Giants in Week 4.
Philadelphia is fifth in the NFL, averaging 417.8 yards per game, but only are scoring 16.5 points per game.
The fact they win close games is something the Steelers will need to be concerned with, especially considering they held second half leads in both of their losses.