Steelers should give Ben Roethlisberger a helmet this week… just in case

Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers have chosen to rest Ben Roethlisberger in Week 17, but here’s why he could get a helmet against the Browns… just in case.

After a dismal four-game stretch that saw the Steelers failing to score at least 20 points in a single contest, fans were no doubt glad to see Pittsburgh rally back and defeat the Indianapolis Colts to lock up the division. Though Mike Tomlin’s team has already won the AFC North, they may have something more to play for.

Tomlin declared early this week that Mason Rudolph would start against the Cleveland Browns this week as Ben Roethlisberger would receive a week of rest before the playoffs. While this is all well and good, Pittsburgh may want to consider giving Big Ben a helmet this week and having him dressed on the sidelines… just in case.

Steelers may have something to play for

While this seems like an outrageous idea, this is something the Steelers should at least consider. If this game had literally nothing on the line then, by all means, have Ben in sweatpants on the sideline. However, we could find out that this game will become more important than we think.

The Miami Dolphins Week 17 game against the Buffalo Bills will be going on simultaneously. Here’s where things get interesting. If the Dolphins are able to start sticking it to the Bills, the Steelers will find themselves in an intriguing predicament.

With a Bills loss and a Steelers win, Pittsburgh will reclaim the number two seed in the AFC. Why is this so important? To avoid the Kansas City Chiefs. If Tomlin’s team was able to earn the number two seed, they wouldn’t have to face the Chiefs until the AFC Championship Game. This could potentially give a team like the Bills a chance to knock Kansas City out of the playoffs. Given the opportunity, I will take the lesser of two evils.

This is where Ben comes in…

Mason Rudolph has clearly struggled when called upon over his first three seasons in the league. If he is struggling against the Browns and the Dolphins are up on the Bills, this should really make the Steelers think about deploying Ben Roethlisberger to close out the game.

Yes, I understand that the 38-year-old signal-caller could use a rest as much as anyone in the league. However, the prospect of earning the number two seed and potentially avoid the Chiefs this year would be extremely difficult to pass up. By giving Big Ben a hat this week, they could still rest him in the first half of the game and see how things fare with the Miami-Buffalo game heading into the tunnel. If both games are well within reach, perhaps it would be worth it to have Roethlisberger come in and manage the game for a Steelers win.

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This is a scenario that Mike Tomlin will certainly not explore heading into the final week of the season. Ben Roethlisberger’s health is a top priority and he knows the Steelers don’t have a shot at a Super Bowl without him. At the same time, if Pittsburgh ends up getting matched up against the Chiefs, their playoff run likely ends there.