Too much fuss has been made about how many games Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will miss this season due to his suspension. Will he miss six? Will he miss four?
The truth is, we all have been told to expect the suspension to be four games for months now. This team will go as far as the defense and the running game takes them this season. Losing safety Troy Polamalu and defensive end Aaron Smith in 2009 is most likely what cost the Steelers any chance at making the playoffs, and they're both starting the 2010 season healthy and ready to contribute.
Ben will miss games against the Atlanta Falcons, the Tennessee Titans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers should be able to beat the Falcons and the Bucs no matter who is taking the snaps for them simply because the Steelers defense is so strong. The Titans are a bit of a wild card, as they've brought Vince Young back as the starting QB. Young has never put up very good stats, but he has the highest winning percentage of any Tennessee Titan QB ever.The Ravens are going to be tough, but the game is in Pittsburgh, which helps a little.
I'm predicting 2-2 after the four games that Ben is out. That is in no way the end of the world for a team with as much talent on the defensive side of the ball as the Steelers have.
The biggest concern for Steelers fans should be that they may only be the third best team in the AFC north. The Bengals won the division last year and got better in the off-season. The Ravens made the playoffs and advanced past the first round, and they added a Pro Bowl wide receiver for their gun slinging QB to throw to through free agency this off-season. The Steelers are better than the Browns, but so is most of the league.
The rest of their schedule isn't exactly going to be a cake walk, either. They have to play the Patriots, the Jets, the Dolphins ( not an easy win anymore ), and the world champion Saints as well.
Roethlisbereger will be back for the all of those games. Steelers' fans should be more concerned with what happens after Ben returns than what happens while he's gone.
It's going to take an entire team effort if this team is going to make the post-season in 2010. Running back Rashard Mendenhall will have to carry the ball effectively eighteen-plus times a game. Young wide receiver Mike Wallace is going to have to step up in a big way and fill the void left by Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes Troy Polamalu will need to be back to his havoc-reeking self. Aaron smith has to return to Pro Bowl form, too. It's not going to be easy, and missing Ben Roethlisberger in four games is only one step in an uphill climb that will last the entire 2010 season. They're going to pull this off, they need to worry less about what one guy isn't doing in four games and more on what the other fifty-two do for all sixteen games.