The Pittsburgh Steelers are in the playoffs once again. In life, only three things are certain: death, taxes and a trip to the playoffs for the Steelers!
I was as happy as a kid on Christmas watching the San Diego Chargers beat the feathers off of the Baltimore Ravens last night. Now the Steelers control their own destiny with three games remaining, and are in position to win the AFC North.
Tonight's game against the San Francisco 49ers is by far the toughest remaining game. With a win tonight, the Steelers would be in position to get some players healthy with only the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns remaining.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up but I can't see him missing tonight's game. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported late last night that he is expected to start. Roethlisberger and the rest of the team know how important a bye and home-field advantage would be.
Either way, this team is well prepared to make a run to another Super Bowl this season. Not only did most of the team play in last year's Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers, they are reminded of it all the time as the Packers continue to win.
This team has as good a blend as anybody when it comes to youth and experience. Ben Roethlisberger knows how to lead his team to Super Bowl wins, and has been humbled by defeat now too. He will be as determined as ever to avenge last season's disappointing finish.
Rashard Mendenhall is running as good as ever down the stretch, and only has one fumble this season. His backup, Isaac Redman, hasn't fumbled at all this season. He and Mendenhall are a great pair and allow each other to take fewer hits than guys who get all of the carries.
This wide receiving corps is the best I have ever seen in my lifetime, and provides Big Ben with a variety of targets. Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are both taking the league by storm, combining for nearly 2,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. Add to that Emmanuel Sanders, Hines Ward, Jerricho Cotchery and Heath Miller.
The defense is best in the league against the pass, giving up only 179.1 yards per game, and sixth against the run, giving up 97 yards a game. An efficient offense to go with the stout defense means trouble for anybody who has to play the Steelers in the playoffs. The Steelers offense puts up 371.6 yards a game.
Finally, head coach Mike Tomlin is only 39 years old and has already led the Steelers to a Super Bowl victory. In fact, when the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009, Tomlin became the youngest head coach to lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. The Steelers have won two AFC Championships under Tomlin as well, so no game is too big for this team.
This year's team is better than it was last season, and has another year of experience. The only things that can stop this team from winning the Super Bowl are turnovers and injuries. Either way, this team is too good for me to sit here and make excuses for them in advance. I'm confident that the Steelers will be the last team standing if the players take care of business.
Sit back and relax Steelers Nation, soon we will see another exciting playoff run!