NFL Playoff Schedule 2012: Why Steelers Have Hardest Road to Super Bowl XLVI

T.J. McaloonContributorJanuary 4, 2012

PITTSBURGH - FEBRUARY 03:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers shows off the Super Bowl XLIII trophy during a parade on February 3, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have gone on the road before as a Wild Card team to win the Super Bowl in 2005. However, that road was not as tough as the three road games the Steelers will have to travel this year, if they want to make it back to their fourth Super Bowl in seven years. 

Pittsburgh starts their journey to Indianapolis in Denver, against the Broncos. 

Denver’s passing game is awful, ranking 31st in the NFL. While the Steelers do bring in the No. 1 passing defense, it’s their rushing defense that ranks eighth that will allow the Broncos and their No. 1 rushing offense into the game. 

The Steelers will get past the Broncos, by only allowing the Denver offense to kick field goals, when they get on Pittsburgh’s side of the field. The Steelers defense ranked first in the league in points allowed, by letting teams score 14 points per game, and kicking more field goals than scoring touchdowns to score points. 

After the Wild Card victory, the Steelers move onto either Baltimore, or New England for the divisional round and then the AFC championship game. 

In both road games, the Steelers will have to find a way to get past two defenses that allowed Pittsburgh to only score two touchdowns when they played them during the regular season. 

Let’s say the Steelers head to New England for the divisional round before going to Baltimore. 

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 30:  Brett Keisel #99 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tackles and strips the ball from Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots during their last drive of the game during the game on October 30, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Penn
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Not only is the game against the No. 1 seed Patriots, but the game is on Saturday Night, while the Patriots will have over a week to rest and the Steelers will have less than six-days to get ready. 

However, when the Steelers played the Patriots in the regular season, they dominated New England’s passing attack holding them to their lowest point total on the season, and total yards. Pittsburgh did this all the while not having one of their best pass rusher, James Harrison. 

With Harrison back healthy, plus the rest of their defense not being injured, it will lead to the defense having an even better performance than their 25-17 victory in Week 9. 

This will lead to the third matchup against the Ravens, with the Steelers looking to make amends for their Week 1 trip to Baltimore when they were blown out 35-7. 

This time around, the Steelers will finally overtake the Ravens, when Baltimore will have to turn to quarterback Joe Flacco to win the game. Yes, Flacco did lead the Ravens on a game-winning drive in Pittsburgh to beat the Steelers in Week 9. However, before that drive, Flacco was 21-of-34, only throwing for 208 yards and no touchdowns. 

Pittsburgh not only held Flacco in check for the majority of that game, but they limited running back Ray Rice to only 43 yards on 18 carries. 

In the AFC Title game, the Steelers will hold off the Ravens for a complete 60-minutes, and will move on to Indianapolis to play in this year’s Super Bowl after surviving this grueling road trip.

 

Wild Card Weekend Playoff Schedule

Date/Time

Home Team

Road Team

Channel

Sat. 1/7 4:30 PM

Houston Texans

Cincinnati Bengals

NBC

Sat. 1/7 8:00 PM

New Orleans Saints 

Detroit Lions

Sun. 1/8 1:00 PM

New York Giants

Atlanta Falcons

FOX

Sun 1/8 4:30 PM

Denver Broncos

Pittsburgh Steelers

CBS