With the way this NFL season has unfolded so far, the Pittsburgh Steelers are feeling more and more like a nasty cold—you don't like them, but you can’t shake them.
Even after their second blowout loss of the season, they found a way to beat the Baltimore Ravens, who entered the affair as not just hated rivals, but also AFC North front-runners. Especially with the victory re-establishing both Pittsburgh’s winning record and top spot in the division, I’d imagine it’s quite difficult for yinzers to be particularly sad today.
Speaking of which, I can think of another reason that they’d be more chipper than usual, and that is the fact that the Steelers have their one and only bye week coming up.
As we all know, a bye not only gives teams a week to not worry about losing, but time to regroup and rest up/prepare for the coming games as well. That sounds like a pretty sweet gig to me, considering that Pittsburgh has proven it could put an opportunity like that to great use.
However, when putting the standard perks associated with bye weeks aside and, instead, picking apart the position the Steelers are in as they enter theirs, one can argue that it could actually go on to do more harm than good.
What could possibly go wrong in the Steelers catching a breather?
Despite how strange it may sound, bye weeks can actually cause issues for teams through the same means in which it’s meant to help them—giving them a week off.
Think about it: Why would a team need a week away from gameday action? One reason could be that an impact player (if not multiple) suffered a short-term injury at just the right time and can use the week to recuperate instead of being absent and harming the odds of victory in a big game. Another could be that they had a good start to their season, yet lost their rhythm throughout the last week or two. The problem here is that neither of these examples applies to the Steelers.
Luckily, Pittsburgh did not suffer any injuries this last Sunday that resulted in any serious concern. And, as one can surely imagine, Pittsburgh coming off of a divisional comeback win after getting blown out by the Texans doesn’t qualify as losing rhythm; rather, it qualifies as the polar opposite. In fact, that is precisely where the bye week’s aforementioned “harm” comes into play.
When considering both how much they’ve struggled so far this season and how their win over Baltimore showed no sound increase in offensive reliability, a break from the grind is the absolute last thing that the Steelers need, as it’ll only halt whatever momentum they garnered.
It’s that exact factor that summons questionability around the advantages of having a first-round bye in the postseason—and if it can shake up conference contenders, it can certainly shake up the Steelers.
Lastly, as if that isn’t bad enough, we have those who all follow the bye. Pittsburgh’s combination of habitual inconsistency and stymied momentum would be troubling regardless of who it encountered after the break but, as we’ve already recognized, the next month of games are against squads that have made at least one postseason appearance in the last two years. I can’t believe that does much to fuel any confidence when looking out for rocks on this already bumpy trail.
Despite how often I play the role, I cannot stress how much I despise being Steeler Nation’s buzzkill. Heck, I was the most toxic fan in America after the Ravens choked. But through it all, I know a “good” win from a “bad” win, and this one fell into the latter.
With that said, Pittsburgh needed all the momentum in the world, and now it's going to lose however much it just got to a vacation that is supposed to aid it.
That sucks. There is one positive takeaway in all of this, though, and that is that if the Steelers beat the Rams in Week 7, we can put all the more faith in the thought of them actually catching some wind in their sails as they progress through the rest of their slate uninterrupted.