Ben Roethlisberger should not be given a week of rest against the Browns

Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Steelers end their season on Sunday like they usually do, with a game against the division rival Cleveland Browns.

The Steelers have already clinched a playoff spot, and it was announced yesterday that starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will not make the trip:

I’m not so sure about the Steelers’ apparent plan to rest on their laurels for week 17. Many years, this game pits a safely playoff-bound Steelers team against a Browns team that has not come close to sniffing the postseason. But, as has been said in countless other articles about 2020, this is no ordinary year.

This game counts on two levels.

First, Pittsburgh needs it to bolster their postseason standing.  Pittsburgh currently sits in the third seed in the AFC, but they can jump to second with a win over Cleveland and a Bills loss to the Miami Dolphins. This would put the Steelers at 13-3 and the Bills at 12-4, negating the tiebreaker Buffalo holds from their head-to-head victory.

The Dolphins are currently 10-5 and a playoff team themselves, sitting in the fifth seed. It’s not out of the question for Tua Tagovailoa to come into Buffalo and pull off the upset in a division rivalry game.

More from Still Curtain

It would be one thing to play the bench and hope for help from the Dolphins if Sunday’s opponent was the same sorry Browns we are used to. These Browns are not the punching bag Steelers fans are accustomed to, their loss to the Jets notwithstanding.

Baker Mayfield and crew currently sit in the final wild card spot at 10-5, essentially giving Steelers-Browns the same stakes as Bills-Dolphins: two playoff teams jockeying for seeding and position.

It’s my opinion that this game is too important to rest key starters like Roethlisberger.

Rest is important going into the postseason, but I worry that resting key offensive starters at this point in the season may actually hurt their progress.  Pittsburgh puts up three weak offensive performances in losses to Washington, Buffalo, and Cincinnati, plagued by receivers dropping passes, Roethlisberger making bad reads, and an abandonment of the ground game.

The second half of this past Sunday’s win over the Colts seemed to reverse all those issues, with the offense gelling against a good team on the level of the Browns. (The Colts are now 10-5 and eighth in the AFC.) We saw this team get its groove back against Indianapolis, and it would be best to give them another game against a similarly talented opponent to continue to hum and regain their confidence heading into the playoffs.

Related Story. 4 positions Steelers will be targeting in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. light

In short, the confidence boost that comes from another week of achieving like they are used to and like they know they can will do the team better than a week of rest for the stars. Besides, week 17 matters too much to miss them.