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Can the Pittsburgh Steelers Really Go Anywhere in the Playoffs?

Erik DianaCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2008

For the first time in a long time, I'm completely clueless about the Steelers. I don't know if the Steelers are the worst eleven-win team ever. I don't know if they were just tired and beat up and at the end of a brutal schedule when they got their butt kicked today.

With the Steelers, anything almost makes sense. If you want to say that they are terrible and their defense has saved them all season, I would have to concede that. If you said that they played well all season despite a rash of injuries and rose to the occasion more often than not, I would concur.

What makes the Steelers so maddening is that they have not found an identity yet on offense. Correction, they've found an identity. They just need to shred the identity that they are soft! Playoff teams will bring the house against the Steelers.

What else is obvious is that the fate of the Steelers will rest in the hands of Ben Roethlisberger. The defense is good enough to keep the Steelers in every game they play. If Big Ben and Co. can make plays, they have a legitimate shot at glory.

If Big Ben is careless with the football and puts the defense in terrible field position (like he did against the Titans and Colts), then the Steelers have no shot to go anywhere significant.

It's no secret that the offensive line is the worst it has been in quite some time. Ben Roethlisberger will need to get rid of the football as fast as he can. He also better get rid of it accurately as well. You might as well toss out the running game being a factor because this line sucks so bad.

But, if you tell me that the Steelers won't turn the ball over, I'll start to believe in this team. James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, James Farrrior, and others are just too good to give up 35 points. That's why the Steelers haven't been blown out once this year. They got beat badly in Philadelphia and really could have been one play from winning that game most of the day.

That's why Brice Arian's play calling was heinous; he cost them that game single-handedly. This is easily the best defense the Steelers have had since 1994.

The one thing that is refreshing about Mike Tomlin is that he seems to be better at making adjustments than Bill Cowher. I'm not dogging Cowher, but if the Steelers couldn't run the ball they hardly ever had a chance with him at the helm (think of the '01 and '04 AFC Championship Games). Cleveland or Detroit may figure out he's not the genius everyone thinks he is.

So what will happen with the Steelers? Who knows. Mike Tomlin, Bruce Arians, and Dick Lebeau could look like savants. Or Arians and Tomlin could have some explaining to do if they lose and lose miserably like last year.

If the Steelers make it to the Super Bowl after the schedule they've had, it would be amazing. If they fail at home in their first game, Arians should be canned and Kevin Colbert should apologize for wasting an amazing defense!

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