The Pittsburgh Steelers have a great opportunity in front of them. They are coming off a bye week, against a banged up Browns team, and it is a revenge game. The recipe for the Steelers success is right there before them, they just have to put the pieces of the puzzle together. But what happens if they aren't successful, and the Browns knock off the Steelers once again? For starters, the Steelers would find themselves in a really bad place. They would be 0-2 in AFC North competition and would dip below the .500 bar again.
The Steelers would also be the only team with a losing record in the division regardless of what happens with the rest of the division this weekend. The hole the Steelers will have dug themselves would be vast, and the possibility of repeating as division champions would likely be over. On top of that, being 3-4 puts them well behind the 8-ball in the Wild Card race, especially if the other AFC North teams are taking up the 5th and 6th playoff spots. Long story short, a loss this weekend close to kills any of the Steelers’ playoff aspirations. The team would be reliant on sweeping the rest of their divisional games and would probably need to go 6-3 or 7-2 the rest of the way to make it into the dance.
It’s hard to believe the impact of one game in the middle of the season could change so much. However, with how the Steelers started the season, and the hot start from the rest of AFC North, a loss Sunday would mean the Steelers would have to rely on other teams floundering to do anything this season. This is as close to a must-win game as you can get this early in the season.
A win sets the Steelers up to accomplish any of their goals this year. Being 4-3 would push the team above the Browns, based on the head-to-head win and win percentage, and place the Steelers in a Wild Card slot with the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears on the horizon in Weeks 9 and 10.
The difference between 6-3 with a divisional win, and 5-4 without one is big. The Steelers need to go on a bit of a win streak here but the most important of all these upcoming opponents is the one they have in Cleveland this Sunday. The Steelers have to win this game, and if they do life gets a whole lot easier through the month of November.
But what do you think? Is there a such thing as a must-win game in October? If there is, would this game be one of them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.