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What's In Their Way
Injuries. When 100 percent, this team is as loaded as any in football.
The problem is they have not really been at that point all season.
Now Rashard Mendenhall is out, and Ben Roethlisberger is dinged up.
The good news is that while Mendenhall and Roethlisberger have dominated headlines, the rest of the team is doing well. Assuming the Steelers beat the Denver Broncos, the 20 other starters are healthy.
The defense is as whole as it has been all season, with bookend outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley finally set to play together in Denver.
What's At Stake
A chance to go down as one of the great underdog stories in NFL history. This team is generally thought of as too old and too hurt to go on the road and make a run at a seventh Lombardi Trophy.
Granted, the occasional fan or analyst gives the Steelers a chance to come out of the AFC, but almost all that do have them falling to the New Orleans Saints or Green Bay Packers.
Mike Tomlin recently instructed Ben Roethlisberger to drop the John Wayne act. The irony in his instruction is no team in football resembles the script of an old cowboy movie more than the Steelers.
With a team full of 30-somethings (especially on that top-ranked defense) this is likely Pittsburgh's last run with this core of players. Old and wounded, Team Wayne needs to hope they have enough bullets left in the holster take out the new gunslingers.
Alexander is a featured columnist for bleacherreport.com You can follow Alexander on Twitter @thesportsdude7 or become a fan on his bleacher report profile.