Steelers need to sit Roethlisberger if they beat the Bengals

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Steelers win on Monday, they should sit Roethlisberger for Rudolph for the regular season

The Steelers are in a really good position to win the division on Monday, as a victory over the hapless Bengals will secure the AFC North crown. While there are no easy victories in the NFL, the Steelers are a heavily favored team entering this game. Even if their offense struggles as it has in similar weeks, this game should be well in hand as the Bengals have a questionable offense since Joe Burrow was lost for the season.

If everything goes according to plan, the team will have clinched the division after Monday. While they could still be in the hunt for first seed placement and the subsequent bye, the Steelers should at the bare minimum rest Ben Roethlisberger assuming they win. In turn, the team should role with backup Mason Rudolph for the final two games of the season.

Roethlisberger needs to get healthy

It’s pretty apparent when he plays that Roethlisberger isn’t completely healthy right now. Playing a long stretch of games without a bye week (thanks Titans) will do that to a 38-year-old quarterback. Roethlisberger started the season off on a great note. His deep balls were more on point and he was guiding the offense at a great pace. Before the second game against the Ravens, this offense was playing far better than it had before.

Since then, this offense has stalled completely, and as a result, this team has dropped their last two games. While there is a multitude of reasons for this, one of the most prevalent is Roethlisberger’s mediocre play. He can barely get the ball down the field, and even some of his short passes are becoming inaccurate.

While there is a wide variety of reasons for this, one of them is likely the knee injury he is struggling through. His final interception against the Bills was evidence of this, as he barely stepped forward for his long pass attempt. As a result, the ball was horribly underthrown despite James Washington beating his man. Giving Roethlisberger two weeks to rest could allow his knee to heal up and anything else that is ailing him a chance to recover.

Steelers need to see more of Rudolph

As well, given Roethlisberger’s recent struggles, this could certainly be his final year for the team. More than likely, that would mean Rudolph would be the starter next year. While he struggled last year, he should be another year developed and that should be seen on the field. This would give the Steelers a chance to see if he could realistically lead the team if Roethlisberger hangs it up after 2020.

Now, the issue with resting Roethlisberger is that you more or less give up on getting the first seed. That said, the Chiefs are likely going to run away with that given their record. Their last shot of losing seems to be against the Saints this week, but even if that happens, getting a healthy Roethlisberger is far more valuable than a first-round bye. With home-field advantage being minimalized due to reduced crowds, resting Roethlisberger would be the better move.

This doesn’t mean start sitting everyone, but anyone that has been struggling through injuries for most of the year could use the rest. This team needs to prioritize health before the playoffs above all else. Their odds of capturing the top seed is unlikely, so the next best bet is getting as healed as possible before the playoffs start.

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Obviously, the Steelers need to beat the Bengals this week, but assuming that goes to plan or the Browns lose which would also give the Steelers the division, this team needs to sit Roethlisberger for the final few games. Prioritizing his health, even at the cost of the top seed, will give this team the best chance of making a Super Bowl push.