Steelers 25 Patriots 17
New England -3 @Pittsburgh 52 -170 +150
Win Probability 38.52%
Ravens 23 Steelers 20
@Pittsburgh -3.5 Baltimore 41.5 -200 +170
Win Probability 64.81%
Steelers 24 Bengals 17
Pittsburgh -3.5 @Cincinnati 40 -205 +175
Win Probability 65.42%
The Steelers navigated the gauntlet part of their schedule with a very respectable 2-1 record with an impressive victory over New England, a heartbreaking loss to the Ravens and a nice bounce-back road victory at Cincinnati.
It could be argued they lost the most important of the three contests, but I think if you offered any Steelers fan the option of a 2-1 record back on October 29th without telling them who the loss was against, they would have accepted it. I know I would have.
Now the team gets a much deserved rest and has the potential to make a nice run in December towards the playoffs. The bye week should give the team an opportunity to get healthy and have all hands on deck. This includes Lamarr Woodley, James Farrior and Hines Ward. In fact, other than the season ending injury to Aaron Smith, I would think there is potential to have every other major contributor ready to go by the playoffs.
All-in-all the season to date has been acceptable. We are overachieving slightly (by about a ½ game in the win column) and have a decent shot to put up a 12 win season. That’s pretty good when you consider the common hangover associated with a Super Bowl loser the previous season.
From a statistical analysis, there is room for improvement and there are still frustrating inconsistencies on both sides of the football. But again, there aren’t many teams in the league we can’t compete with on any given Sunday, even playing just good football. In the current landscape of the NFL, there is Green Bay and then a lot of tier-2 teams that flash exceptional football. The Steelers are in this next group along with Baltimore, New England, Houston (who is now without Matt Schaub), both New York teams, Cincinnati, Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans and Atlanta. It appears there is more luck and a timely play that separate these teams than talent and/or coaching.
I guess that will make for an exciting brand of playoff football this January.
So what is next? Beating the teams we’re supposed to beat and bringing a consistent brand of football between the lines in the process. Taking care of business and being professional. Concentration and mistake free execution at critical points on the field (3rd downs, red zone). Further expansion of our pass defense (using both man and zone concepts) and the ability to adjust as need be to situations and quarterbacks.
That’s the key for the Steelers 2011 season. We have positioned ourselves to make a run. We have survived injuries. Players have stepped up when asked. Now we just let the chips fall where they may.