After the Pittsburgh Steelers demoralizing loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16, you heard the same song and dance from many fans of the black and gold throughout the week. "The Steelers don't deserve to make the playoffs after that performance."
Yes, their performance was atrocious, but to say this 2015 Steelers team doesn't deserve to make the postseason because of one poor showing is extremely hasty. In fact, I would go as far as saying that despite their Week 16 outcome, this team certainly deserves the playoffs when you look at their entire 2015 body of work.
Before I go any further, let me make it clear this is not an article excusing the team's loss to the Ravens, it was bad, but if you think about what this team has been through this season it is difficult not to think they more than deserve a seat at the postseason table.
Before the season, when the NFL schedule was released, many fans talked about an 8-8 or 9-7 season being expected with so many unknowns on the new roster. Expectations by many were very "middle of the road" for the 2015 Steelers. To compound an already skeptical fan base, if I were to have told you before the season the following events would take place throughout the season, you would think the Steelers would be playing for a top draft pick, not a playoff spot, in the 2015 season finale.
Events in 2015, in no particular order:
- Le'Veon Bell suspended the first 3 games of 2015
- Martavis Bryant missing first 5 games with suspension and injury
- Ben Roethlisberger lost for a combined 5 games due to injuries
- Kelvin Beachum lost for the season with a torn ACL
- Maurkice Pouncey missing the entire season with a broken ankle
- Ryan Shazier out for several games due to injuries
- 2nd round draft pick Senquez Golson doesn't even see a preseason snap due to a shoulder injury putting him on injured reserve
- Le'Veon Bell injured midway through the season putting him on IR
Just read over that list one more time. If you knew all of that would take place in 2015, with the NFL's most difficult schedule, would you think the team would have a shot at a 10-6 record and a playoff berth in Week 17? Most would answer such a question with a resounding "No".
Yes, the team had control over their playoff destiny entering Week 16, and now they are leaning on beating the Cleveland Browns and the Buffalo Bills beating the New York Jets to get into the playoffs, but don't let that fact cloud a tremendous season by the Steelers and their coaching staff.
When people say the Steelers "don't deserve" the playoffs after a poor performance on the road against a division rival, it makes me wonder if they have forgotten everything which has taken place in 2015. To be quite honest, it is difficult for me to think of a team more deserving of a playoff berth.