The black eye has been noticeable. The Rooneys don't want to deal with this. The fans aren't liking it one bit. And to make things worse, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the 2010 NFL schedule before he announced Ben Roethlisberger's suspension.
It's coming, we know that. Goodell said Monday Big Ben clearly violated the league's personal conduct policy.
Now, fans have hours—maybe days—to stare at this schedule and wonder where the wins are without their franchise QB.
We've done some of the dirty work here, and our initial breakdown isn't pretty. We're going on a worst-case scenario of an eight-game suspension.
The schedule makers were not kind to Pittsburgh in Big Ben's absence. Will the scoreboard be as brutal to Steelers Nation?
The Falcons won three straight to end the 2009 season at 9-7, but they still looked in onto the playoff picture—just like the Steelers.
This is one of the worst-case scenario, Week 1 games for Pittsburgh. Matt Ryan is hungry to show he is past his supposed sophomore slump. Michael Turner is looking to show he's still a 1,500-yard back. The Falcons want to make an early statement against a traditional AFC power.
RESULT: Falcons, 28-10
Humidity game. Ugh.
The Titans are likely coming off a home win against the Raiders. Vince Young is looking to prove once-and-for-all that he is legit.
This is going to be all about defense. No Santonio Holmes across the middle to bail out Dennis Dixon or Byron Leftwich. Rashard Mendenhall is going to be so crucial here to give the QB some field position and avoid third-and-long every series.
This game comes down to a tight fourth quarter where Chris Johnson owns the clock and puts the home team in position for a game-winning field goal.
RESULT: Titans, 16-13
This is the week where either Leftwich or Dennis Dixon starts to find their groove (figuring that Big Ben is still out).
The Steelers light up the Bucs secondary for a true sign-of-life win.
RESULT: Steelers, 30-10
This is almost exclusively why the Ravens traded for Anquan Boldin: To give them an offensive weapon that opens up the run game and gives Joe Flacco a chance to air it out against the Steelers.
The Steelers are back at home, and they're hoping Big Ben is back too (we're figuring he's not). This was the loss that did in their playoff chances.
Pittsburgh is going to be hungry, no doubt. But the Ravens made some serious upgrades that pay dividends.
RESULT: Ravens, 23-17
So the Steelers are 1-3 to this point. Big Ben's still out for three more games in our worst-case scenario, and it's a three-game stretch that could leave the Steelers at 1-6.
Mike Tomlin is going to hear it all over town this week. The Rooneys are going to hear it for not shipping Big Ben out when they had the chance to get big-time talent.
Hopefully, Big Ben can stay out of the bars for the first three or four weeks. Any TMZ mentions could make this bye-week a disaster.
The Browns ripped the heart of the Steelers with a 13-6 Dec. 10 win that was a "Finish Him!" shot to the playoff hopes. And that was with Josh Cribbs and nobody else.
The Browns come in with a washed-up signal caller. Seneca Wallace could be replacing a banged-up Jake Delhomme by now.
But then there's the draft. If the Browns get who is slotted there, either way it's trouble for Pittsburgh. C.J. Spiller on offense or Eric Berry on defense is going to have a coming-out party.
So all that said, I'm giving the Steelers a break. The run game and the defense step up huge.
This is a truly key game. The Steelers could get back to .500 and have some real momentum before heading off to face the Super Bowl champs in New Orleans.
Brandon Marshall isn't going to let that happen. The Dolphins have a hard road to start as well, but could come in to this one at 3-2 or even 4-1. Henne to Marshall all day long. You can't stop him. You can't even hope to contain him.
RESULT: Dolphins, 28-17
Prime time, "Sunday Night Football" on NBC. All the storylines will be on two teams headed in different directions.
The Saints could come in at 5-2 or 6-1. If all the Saints' weapons are healthy, it's going to be a long night.
The Steelers get Big Ben back at 2-5 with a lot of work to do and likely a three-game division hole to overcome.
RESULT: Saints, 42-20