The Steelers / Patriot game should either establish the Patriots as contenders for the playoffs and more or reveal them as pretenders. The Patriots' playoff hopes depend on them winning this game, otherwise they would almost have to run the table on the rest to get into the playoffs. The game is even more important to Cassel career and potentially worth several million in pending free agent dollars.
If Cassel thrives against the Steelers' top ranked defense then he truly establishes himself as a legitimate rising starting quarterback. With a diminished running game due to injuries the weight of victory is clearly on Cassel's performance. Fortunately, Pittsburgh's running game has also been injured this year and on their 3rd string back. Cassel must continue to minimize turnovers, but outperform Ben Rothlesberger.
If Cassel flops then interest will diminish and he loses potential millions. This game could be the pivotal point of Cassel provided a starting job next year somewhere or end up in line with the likes Billy Volek who was supposed to be the starter in San Diego but been holding clip boards for Drew Brees and Philip Rivers.
As Bud Fox said in the moveie Wall Street while looking into the mirror right before meeting Gordon Gecco "Your life's future depends on a few critical moments ... this is one of them." For Matt Cassel's career and the Patriots season this afternoon's game is one of those critical moments. Hope they are victorious and not end up destitute and in jail like Bud Fox.