The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in a tricky situation in the final three weeks of the season. On one hand they virtually have no chance (5%) at clinching a first round bye, on the other they can still finish the regular season in sixth place in the AFC. But having gone through one of the most challenging schedules in NFL history the Steelers should start giving their players some much needed rest.
By the time the playoffs start the Steelers will have gone through 5 consecutive months without a single week away from football. They will have practiced more than any other team in the NFL by a wide margin, and will be faced with another month of physical playoff football. This team is clearly exhausted both physically and mentally.
The physical side of things in obvious. Injuries continue to pile up for the Steelers, and with such little rest to this year the number of injuries will continue to grow faster and faster as the year progresses. The mental exhaustion is also obvious, from dropping the football, to a guy like T.J. Watt not falling on a fumble that is sitting right between his hands. The mistakes and injuries are apparent, and I believe he only way the Steelers can bump this slump is by getting their guys some sort of rest.
However, the Steelers need to beat the Bengals first. And for two very important reasons:
- It guarantees the Steelers a Top-3 finish in the AFC
- The Steelers need to regain some chemistry and confidence against a Bengals team that is flat out terrible
For starters, the Steelers really should beat the Bengals on Monday. But, losing against Cincinnati doesn't really change the message I'm trying to send today.
Resting the majority of starters for half of the Indianapolis Colts game and all of the Browns game might result in losses and might slightly shift the Steelers down the AFC leader boards. However, in a year where fans will not be present in buildings I strongly prefer that the Steelers are rested and healthy than playing burnt out at home.
Had the Steelers actually received some resemblance of a Bye Week then I would probably tell you I would rather the Steelers try to play through this funk. However, this decline extends further past scheme. These guys are straight up tired and need a break. And no one needs some time off more than Ben Roethlisberger who has battled knee injuries and is throwing the football far too much for a 37 year old that has come off of elbow surgery.
Before I wanted the Steelers to push for 16-0/15-1 because it would earn them a first round bye. Now with that off of the table the Steelers will need to find rest in other ways, and resting players in the regular season is the only way to do it. And if you don't like that you can thank Tennessee and Baltimore for taking away the Steelers Bye Week and any other time off.
What do you think? When should the Steelers start resting players for the playoffs? Let us know own in the comments below.