Long Road To The Playoffs: Pittsburgh's Schedule Toughens Up After Their Bye

Eddie RossellCorrespondent IOctober 10, 2008

This Sunday there will sadly be no game played by the Steelers. It is their bye and is a much needed week off. Their massive amount of injuries have held them back, but they still have found ways to win, improving to 4-1 after last week's win in Jacksonville.

If you have read any of my other articles, you know how banged up the Steelers are. They are down to their 4th string running back, they lost a starter on the offensive line in Kendall Simmons, and their d-line is missing two big playmakers.

This week will give many players time to heal injuries and get prepared for next week. Ben Roethlisberger is happy to be able to let some of his injuries heal up a bit. This week off should also give running back Willie Parker time to get healthy enough to play again.

But after this much needed week off is over, the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to have to get down to business. They have not played great teams so far, beating only the Texans, Browns, Ravens, and Jaguars.

The easy games will end starting week eight after a week seven game against the winless Bengals. Here are my thoughts on the Steelers' tough upcoming games.

Week 8: New York Giants

This game is going to be a tough game for Pittsburgh. The Giants are really good and are one of only two teams left undefeated. With Eli and the Giants playing better than Peyton and the Colts, New York looks to be good enough for the Super Bowl again. The Steelers will have back running back Willie Parker by then so it should not be as tough as it would without him.

Week 9: Washington Redskins

This game is still more than three weeks away and I'm already hearing from Skins fans about how the Steelers are going down. All of a sudden  they think that just because they beat Dallas and Philly in their own buildings, that they are the best team in the league. Wait that does make them one of the best in the league. This is why I feel that Washington will be extremely tough Monday Night on November 3rd.

Week 10: Indianapolis Colts

Now just since the Colts got off to a rough start does not count them out of the playoffs. I am looking for them to rebound and get a few wins and start competing for a spot in the playoffs. If the Steelers can not screw it up, they should be able to beat the Colts, but anything is possible.

Week 11: San Diego Chargers

The Chargers got robbed by a blown fumble call a few weeks ago that lost them the game. This has made many into doubters of San Diego. But they have LT so anything can happen. Phillip Rivers seems to be doing okay and that will be where the Steelers' defense struggles. They have never really been great at pass defense so unless the Chargers run a lot, the Steelers will have a hard time winning with that powerful offense San Diego has.

Week 14: Dallas Cowboys

Many people at the beginning of the season targeted the Cowboys as the team to beat. They have one of the most high-powered offenses in all of football. Oh yeah and their defense isn't too bad either. Marion the Barbarian is a beast and Tony Romo is one of the best QBs in the league. Terrell Owens is always around the top of the touchdown receptions list and Jason Witten is flat out tough. The Redskins did beat Dallas though, so they are not invincible. But they will still be a tough team to beat. Pittsburgh will have an advantage though considering that the game is at Heinz Field.

Week 15: Baltimore Ravens

Sure the Steelers already beat the Ravens, so they should not have a hard time winning next time right? Wrong. The Ravens put up a good fight and only lost by a field goal in overtime at Pittsburgh. This game is in the Ravens' house so that automatically makes it tough. And that defense it crushing. Baltimore caused a ton of injuries to the Steelers last time and look for them to do it again.

Week 16: Tennessee Titans

Finally the last really tough game of the Steelers schedule will come against the currently undefeated Tennessee Titans. Their defense is phenomenal and their running game is excellent also. But good thing the Steelers can stop the run, that way Chris Johnson and LenDale White won't be able to do too much on the ground. This will force Tennessee to pass which is not a strong point in their game. This one is sure to be big, defensive, hard-hitting game.

Well that's it. The Steelers schedule this year is making up for their super easy one last year. They play two tough divisions outside of theirs in the NFC East and the AFC South. Being a Steelers fan I do expect them to make the playoffs, but with a schedule like this one, the playoffs will be tough to make.