The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Indianapolis Colts on the road tonight for Monday Night Football. Here’s how a root for a game with no playoff implications.
It isn’t often that the Pittsburgh Steelers play an essentially meaningless game in November. To be out of the race with this much time left in the season is incredibly disheartening and it’s something that the younger generations of fans have never had to experience. Even in 2019 when the Steelers were led by Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, they stood a better chance of making the playoffs.
Now the 3-7 Steelers are set to square off against the 4-6-1 Colts. These were two of the more prestigious teams of the last decade in football; however, things have spiraled out of control for both franchises in recent years.
Indianapolis fired both their OC and their head coach in the middle of the season this year. While Pittsburgh isn’t getting rid of Mike Tomlin anytime soon, some major changes will be made during the 2023 offseason.
Mathematically, there’s almost no chance that a team like the Steelers could claw their way back into the playoff hunt. Even in the most unlikely event that they will all seven of their final games to close out the season, they wouldn’t be guaranteed a spot in the tournament — depending on how other AFC teams perform.
For this reason, fans have been torn on how to root (or what to root for) moving forward. This is new to many of us. In this specific matchup against the Colts, there are certain things we all should want to see happen. Here is your rooting guide for a Monday Night Football game with virtually zero playoff implications.
Steelers would benefit more from a loss vs Colts
While the game is going on, it’s impossible for many fans to actively root against this team to win, and I understand that. However, in the end, fans are going to realize that losing the rest of the way could make a huge difference come April.
This is a team who has missed far too often in the first round over the final stretch of Kevin Colbert’s tenure. Owning a top selection in the 2023 NFL Draft could allow them to snag an elite, blue-chip prospect who could be a cornerstone to this football team or trade back for a king’s ransom.
Though a bad season could potentially affect the demeanor of this team, major changes are clearly needed. If the Steelers go on a winning streak late in the season, it’s possible that Mike Tomlin and company don’t make these necessary changes that are long overdue. We want to see the Steelers be competitive, but a loss is truly in the best interest of the future of this team.
Kenny Pickett to take a step forward
At this point, it does not matter if you were a fan of Kenny Pickett or not. If you are in the party of wanting the team to replace him or draft a new quarterback next year, don’t hold your breath. Pickett isn’t going anywhere. After all, this is the same team and head coach who allowed Jarvis Jones and Artie Burns to start for three years before deciding they were bad football players.
This team won’t even consider moving on from Pickett until after his second NFL season at the earliest, so we might as well root for his success. I wasn’t the biggest Pickett fan when Pittsburgh drafted him, but I do at least see some traits I like. If he can have a strong game against a tough Colts defense, this would be a great sign of where he’s trending.
Young players prove to be building blocks
The harsh reality of this Steelers team is that they probably aren’t going to have their Super Bowl window open back up for at least another year or two. For this reason, it’s far more important to have young players take massive steps forward rather than have their veterans keep them in meaningless games.
Over the next few seasons, Pittsburgh could have an absurd amount of roster turnover due to older veterans and stop-gap players with expiring contracts leaving. What’s scary is that this team has very little foundation to build on at this point in time outside of T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
We need to see young players develop into building blocks for this franchise. Players like George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, Alex Highsmith, and even Najee Harris need to prove that they can start doing enough to build the foundation of this new era of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Keep an eye on these players against the Colts.