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The Steelers might have problems, but at least they're not 0-2

The Steelers have problems and the issues may be great. But unlike three playoff teams from a year ago--Kansas City, New Orleans and Indianapolis--at least Pittsburgh didn't get off to an 0-2 start.

Rob Carr

After two weeks of the 2014 NFL season, it's quite apparent that the Steelers have problems, and these problems deserve to be analyzed, scrutinized, rehashed and placed under a microscope time and time again. Anyone who doesn't think so, well, I want to watch what you're watching because it's been a long time since I've seen the Black and Gold play some really good football.

But the Steelers are 1-1 after two weeks, and when it comes to that, they're a leg up on three playoff teams from a year ago--Kansas City, New Orleans and Indianapolis--who all sit at 0-2 as they prepare for Week 3.

After looking lifeless and uninspired in a Week 1 loss to a non-playoff team from a year ago (Tennessee), the Chiefs put up more of a fight on the road against the defending AFC Champions (Denver) in Week 2, but still came away with a loss.

In the wake of their loss to Atlanta on a last-second field goal in their regular season opener, the Saints traveled to Cleveland in search of some retail therapy in the form of a Week 2 victory over a seemingly pathetic Browns team, only to suffer a second straight loss on a second straight last-second field goal.

As for the Colts, they probably had the toughest start out of the gate, going on the road to face Peyton Manning and Company in Week 1 and then taking on Philadelphia at home on Monday Night Football. But if you're a ready-for-primetime team, you should be able to take care of business against most opponents at home, and Indianapolis had a two-touchdown lead in the third quarter Monday night before falling, 30-27 on, you guessed it, a last-second field goal.

So, while the Steelers certainly have their problems, at least they've stuck to the NFL's and odds-makers' script so far and have the record which most probably predicted they'd have before the start of the season. Fans might not be too infatuated with how the team's last six quarters have gone, but the fact is, Pittsburgh was a six and a half point home favorite against the Browns in Week 1 and a three-point underdog at Baltimore in a prime-time affair just four days later. Thus, a 1-1 record shouldn't have come out of left field.

This Sunday night, the Steelers travel to Carolina for a second straight prime-time contest. And truth be told, Pittsburgh has shown no indication that it's capable of going on the road and knocking off a playoff team. So a 1-2 start seems fairly predictable.

But if head coach Mike Tomlin survives the post-game backlash and wrath (I'm guessing he will), then there are two very winnable games on the horizon with a home date against the Buccaneers in Week 4, followed by a road game at Jacksonville in Week 5.

If the Steelers find a way to win those games (games they should be favored in), not only would they be 3-2 after five weeks, it could be a sign of improvement. Maybe by then we could start to see just what type of team Pittsburgh truly is.

Maybe the offense finds a more consistent rhythm; maybe rookie Stephon Tuitt succeeds Cam Thomas in the starting line-up; maybe Mike Mitchell realizes he's an important free-agent pickup and starts to play like the Ryan Clark of five years ago and not like the Ryan Clark of one year ago.

Regardless of how it shakes out, if the Steelers find a way to get better and improve during the next few weeks, perhaps they can ad lib a bit down the stretch and knock off a team like the Colts, Saints or Bengals and win a game they might be expected to lose if you're analyzing the team through a September microscope.

A win like that could be the difference between 8-8 and 9-7, and it could lead to some meaningful January football for the first time in three years.

Those aforementioned playoff teams from a year ago that now are winless? They probably have more talent than the Steelers do, and they could all be victims of the way teams handle training camp and the preseason these days. But all regular season games, even the ones played in September when perhaps the best teams aren't necessarily clicking on all cylinders, these games count in the standings just as much as the ones in December.

Right now, things don't look so hot for the Steelers after two weeks, but at least they've stuck to the script, and this could prove to be beneficial down the stretch.

The Steelers might have problems but an 0-2 start isn't one of them. The Chiefs, Saints and Colts should be so lucky right now.