As fans, we know the most we can contribute to the performance of our favorite team is most likely being able to go to the game and be part of an army of fellow fans that help create the prime environment to help our favorite team succeed.
Other than that, little to no impact from the actions of fans contribute to our favorite team's failures and successes. Despite this, the natural anxious feeling of a fan to think about what could happen with their favorite team still can take over even the most rational thinker's brain and make a person start to wonder about what statistics and parallels to past successes or failures could help tell what will happen to their team as they await the next big game.
This is why intangibles are often talked about; statistics and facts thrown around that analysts and fans can argue are important and will help form the results of an impending game, but at the end of the day, this information most likely has no bearing on the decisions on the field of either team to play in the game being anticipated.
So, why do people still do it? Because it's fun. So this article goes over a list of trivial facts that fans can find parallel to this season and help ease (or build) their anticipation to the Saturday night matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in the AFC Wildcard playoffs.
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There are always good and bad intangibles, but thanks to the Steelers being the most successful NFL franchise of the Super Bowl era of the league, there are usually more good than bad. So here are some positive intangibles going into this weekend.
1. The Steelers are 3-0 against the Ravens in the playoffs. This one is an easy fact that most fans, young and old, probably know. In 2001, Amos Zereoue leaped over the line of scrimmage to score a touchdown to help Kordell Stewart and the Steelers defeat the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens. In 2008 and 2010, the Steelers were led by their top ranked defense and Ben Roethlisberger to beat the Ravens in their path to the Super Bowl in both years.
2. The Steelers are 9-0 against all divisional opponents in playoff history. This one may not be known by as many Steeler fans, but is a proud one for those who do know it. The Steelers have never lost to a team in their division during the NFL playoffs since the modern Super Bowl era began. The Ravens make up 1/3 of those wins, but wins over the Bengals, Browns and Oilers also get counted into that total. For those who remember the Titans beating the Steelers in 2002, that loss was right after the divisions realigned and the Titans were no longer in the Steelers' division despite their franchise (former Houston/Tennessee Oilers) being in the AFC Central with the Steelers for decades.
3. Ben Roethlisberger is 8-4 against Joe Flacco. Due to injuries and a suspension, Roethlisberger missed some games in the early years of Joe Flacco and the Steelers lost every one of those matchups until 2013 when Charlie Batch led the Steelers to a victory over the Ravens. But over a span of Flacco's first three seasons in the league, a matchup against the Steelers' now all-time leading passer, Roethlisberger, spelled certain doom for Baltimore. Since then, the Flacco has gone 4-2 against Roethlisberger, but still is four games back overall.
4. The Steelers are 7-3 all-time when playing at Heinz Field in the playoffs. Homefield advantage can have an impact on the outcome of a game. The Steelers have shown in 2014 that they can win a lot Heinz Field with a 6-2 record. In the playoffs, it's pretty much the same deal. Though the Steelers have occasionally faultered at Heinz Field in the postseason, it is a rare occurrence. Two of the losses came to Bill Belicheck and the New England Patriots, and the only other one was against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007; Mike Tomlin's only playoff loss at home as head coach in Pittsburgh (4-0 otherwise).
5. The Steelers are 7-0 in their first game of a playoff appearance coming out of a 3-game winning streak to end a regular season. Most notably, fans will draw comparisons to the franchise's Super Bowl XL victory when that team, just like this season, won four consecutive games after starting the season 7-5 right before they won four more consecutive games in the playoffs. Different teams, but similar identical regular season finishes.
6. The Steelers have never lost an opening round game when their head coach is in their fifth season leading the team to the playoffs. In Tomlin's eigth season, he has led his Steelers to the playoffs for a fifth time. The only other Pittsburgh head coaches to do that were Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll, both of whom advanced past the first round.
7. Roethlisberger is 5-2 in the playoffs against quarterbacks drafted in the same year as him, and after. The only two losses came in the franchise's two most recent postseason games, against Tim Tebow and Aaron Rodgers.
8. Roethlisberger is 4-2 in the first round of all his playoff appearances. His only losses however came in the wildcard rounds of 2007 and 2011.
9. The Steelers are 3-1 in their first playoff game following an 11-5 season. Again, most fans will remember the Steelers who became road warriors in the 2005-2006 season on their way to a Super Bowl championship. That team was 11-5, and twice more the team was at least able to advance past their first playoff game after earning an 11-5 record. The only loss came in Bill Cowher's first season as head coach in 1992.
10. The Steelers ranked this year as the seventh highest scoring offense in the NFL. Historically the Steelers are 24-10 in the playoffs when their offense ranks in the top ten of scoring offenses in the league. The past two times that the Steelers had a top ten offense in the playoffs were when they lost to the Jaguars in the wildcard round in 2007, and when they won Super Bowl XL.
11. The Steelers are 5-1 in the playoffs of seasons where their offense scored 400 points or more. Pittsburgh scored a franchise record 436 points this season, only two other times in the franchise's history has the team scored over 400 points in a single season. In both of the other seasons, the Steelers made the Super Bowl. (1995 loss against Dallas Cowboys, 1979 win over Los Angeles Rams.)
Bad intangibles. These are the ones that probably make a fan nervous heading into a game. There aren't as many here, but that's also you're talking to a major homer who doesn't think about these things as much.
1. The Steelers have not won a playoff game in the wildcard round of the playoffs since 2005. Under Mike Tomlin, the Steelers are 0-2 in that round.
2. The Steelers are 2-3 in the playoffs when their defense is ranked outside the top fifteen in scoring. It is very rare that a Steeler team makes the playoffs without a defense that is playing well, and even more rare for such a team to win in the playoffs. This season the Steelers' defense ranked at 18th in the league both in scoring and yardage, something that has not gone well for the team in the past. However, this team has never had an offense score as many points as the 2014 Steelers.
3. The Steelers are 4-5 when they enter the playoffs with the same leading passer, rusher and receiver as the previous year. While this stat is odd, the Steelers don't always have the same offensive leaders throughout their seasons. The most recent trio was Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace in 2011, and before them was Roethlisberger, Willie Parker and Hines Ward in 2006 (no playoffs).
4. Roethlisberger is 1-2 in wildcard playoff games. However, his one win in the wild card round came after going on a 4-game win streak in 2005 to make the playoffs, and we have already (thrice) covered how that season turned out.
5. The Steelers are 7-13 in the playoffs after they have posted a point differential lower than +100 points in a regular season. This season the Steelers' point differential is +68. The Steelers have never won a Super Bowl in a season where their point differential was lower than +100.
There are definitely more obscure facts out there to find that could be drawn to show parallels between this week's game and past games for the Steelers, but I'm not going to find them all. Instead, if you know any, share in the comments below! Fact-checking is always encouraged if you think I'm off on something.
That being said, the Steelers look to have the majority of the mojo going into this game when consulting with past occurrences. None of this will matter come gameday, but then again, maybe some of it will be corroborated.
*cue Twilight Zone theme.