Pittsburgh Steelers Have to Get a Bye In The Playoffs

Mad ChadAnalyst IDecember 9, 2010

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 05:  Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks to pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the third quarter of the game at M&T Bank Stadium on December 5, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

There is no doubt that the win over the Baltimore Ravens was huge. It was a prime time game against a division rival, on the road. It also allows the Pittsburgh Steelers to control their own destiny in more ways then one.

Not only are the Steelers now in first place of the AFC North, they're essentially two games up on the Ravens(8-4) because of the divisional records of each team. If the Steelers win out or if they don't lose either of their last two remaining divisional games—they will win the AFC North.

Furthermore, the Steelers are now in control of getting a bye in the AFC playoffs. The New England Patriots will most likely get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The only way the Steelers can pass the Patriots is if they finish with a better record.

That's probably not going to happen. 

If the Steelers can finish with the No. 2 seed in the AFC they will guarantee themselves a bye in the playoffs and a home game in the divisional round. That would be huge for this team considering how the season has gone.

The Steelers are a banged up team right now, with some key players with serious injuries. Starting with their quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who has two different injuries. Big Ben has a broken nose, causing him to wear a clear visor on his face-mask this week. Roethlisberger also suffered a "foot injury" against the Buffalo Bills a few weeks ago—which obviously isn't going to heal with him playing every week.

If the Steelers can get a bye in the playoffs, Ben will have a whole week to rest up all his injuries. That scenario is very similar to 2008, when Ben suffered a concussion in the last game of the season. The Steelers earned a bye, and Ben had a week to heal up.

He came out fresh and played very well against the San Diego Chargers. If the Steelers don't get that bye that playoff run could have been very different. Ben might not have even been available to play if not for the bye.

Roethlisberger isn't the only one injured. Aaron Smith, who is a very key part of the defense has been out since October with a torn tricep. Smith has just been cleared to start lifting weights and is projecting to be ready to return by the first round of the playoffs. Once again, if the Steelers can earn that bye, Smith will get an extra week to rest up and get ready.

Along with those two, everyone else will be able to heal up and get some much needed rest. Which is the biggest benefit of the bye. The New York Jets game is no longer as important as it once seemed since the Jets lost to the Patriots. The Jets can't finish first unless they pass the Patriots which isn't likely. The games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are much more important, because the Steelers will finish with a better divisional record than the Ravens.

I don't think this team can win a Super Bowl if they fail to get a bye week. They are too banged up. I know a lot of people will point to the run to Super Bowl XL, but that was a once in a lifetime thing. These Steelers aren't as healthy or as hot as that team was.

Not to mention that they are most likely and most unfortunately going to have to beat the Patriots to get to the Super Bowl. That's going to be the biggest challenge for this team by far. I would at least want to have everyone healthy for that game if it happens, and that still might not be enough. But it can't a hurt. The Steelers have to get a bye if they want to have a legit shot at winning another Super Bowl this year. That's one thing for sure.

This article also appears on the Pittsburgh blog www.412sportstalk.net  You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/madchad1187