The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to sneak past the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night, but it came at a very high cost.
Idiotic penalties from Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones helped put Pittsburgh in position to kick the game-winning field goal, which is not exactly the most inspiring way to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
To make matters worse, two separate dirty plays by Burfict has put the Steelers’ two most important players in jeopardy for this weekend’s tilt with the Denver Broncos. Ben Roethlisberger’s throwing shoulder is separated and he can’t go downfield and Antonio Brown is going through the concussion protocol. His status is doubtful.
Let’s see where the experts are ranking the Steelers now.
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“Thank goodness Denver doesn’t have a fierce pass rush with ridiculously talented edge rushers — you know, guys like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware … Still, never count out these Steelers, especially if Fitzgerald Toussaint gets roll-ing.”
“A limited Ben Roethlisberger helped save his team late, but can he heal in time for next weekend’s trip to Denver?”
Bleacher Report: #8
“Saturday’s game was a case of the Bengals losing the game, not the Steelers winning it.”
Odds Shark: #4
“Pittsburgh needed penalties by the Bengals with seconds remaining to get into field goal range to kick the game-winning field goal.”
A whole lot of sites have ceased doing the power rankings thing now that the regular season is over, but it’s not hard to see the trend here.
Ranking the Steelers number eight means that they are the weakest team left in the NFL playoffs. This would normally be where we get all indignant and explain why the so-called experts are wrong and the Steelers are still a dangerous team that has to be taken seriously.
Only the problem is this time they’re right. If Big Ben can’t throw the deep ball it takes away the most dynamic part of Pittsburgh’s offense. Also, the word on the street is that Brown’s status for Saturday is not looking good.
The NFL has suspended Burfict for the first three games of the next season. That’s a small consolation prize for a team who is still trying to win a championship this one. Isn’t it about time that the league made an example out of this psychopath?
Three games seems like a slap on the wrist. Eight would get his attention.
Of course anything can happen in the playoffs, but this is far from an ideal situation to go into Denver.