It’s amazing how a fan’s goals (or, wish list, since I have no actual control over any of this) can change from one year to the next.
Last December at this time, the thought of the Steelers having to play postseason football on Wildcard Weekend was just gross. After all, Pittsburgh was 11-3, still had an outside shot at the top seed despite the devastating loss to the Patriots and also had the inside track on the number two seed and a bye.
I was really looking forward to Wildcard Weekend and watching eight teams slug it out just to punch their tickets to the show the Steelers were already destined for: the Divisional Playoffs.
Here we are, this December, the Steelers (8-5-1) have a half-game lead in the AFC North, have a road date with the 12-2 Saints on Sunday and are fighting just to make it to the show.
That whole Wildcard Weekend scenario, it doesn’t seem so bad. That number three seed Pittsburgh gave itself a realistic chance of acquiring following the 17-10 win over the Patriots at Heinz Field on Sunday? Man, that looks quite tasty right about now. Actually, at this point, I’d take the number four seed and a home date with either the Chiefs or Chargers—two teams who beat Pittsburgh at Heinz Field in the regular season—if someone offered it to me in ironclad contract-form.
In-fact, if I was the Steelers postseason counsel, I’d advise them to take that deal, thus avoiding a two-week trial to determine their January fate. Heck, at this point, I might go all Forest Whitaker in the 1990 made for TV movie, Criminal Justice and frantically cop a plea deal for the AFC’s sixth seed.
That’s right, I’m living in my fears.
One year, you’re angry over Jesse James getting screwed out of a top seed-securing touchdown. The next, you’re cheering on Philip Rivers (yuck) in the hopes that he can take out the Ravens in a Saturday night Week 16 match-up just so your favorite football team can have a better shot at the fourth seed.
One year, you tell yourself that the path of least resistance (the top seed or at least a bye) is the only realistic way for your team to reach the Super Bowl. The next year, your rationale is, “Just get in and anything can happen, baby!”
Priorities change from one postseason to the next. As far as the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers are concerned, just having a postseason is really all that matters at this point.