Getting to the big game is as much about the path a team has to face as it is how a team plays on the field – both teams are making the playoffs – but the roads ahead – isn’t going to be easy.
Some teams seem to be in a better position than others to get to the game than others. Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are going to be super interesting teams to watch, any way you slice it. Let’s look at why their paths could get tricky.
The Pittsburgh Steelers started the season white hot, at 11-0, but they have not kept up their winning ways or their mojo on the field as the season has progressed. Since week 13 – Pittsburgh has lost 3 straight times, and 2 of those losses have been against a sub .500 Washington team and the 3 win Bengals. Not exactly, top ended teams in the NFL. You can’t help but question if Steelers fans feel real strong at this point. And realistically, the Steelers carrying a load of confidence right now, is pretty slim.
Pittsburgh has had some problems with running offenses, like Baltimore and Dallas – where they gave up 265 and 144 on the ground, respectively. And to get to the big game, they may have to face some tough running games, like Tennessee or Cleveland. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is sitting as the NFL’s 2nd ranked defense. But their offense has been stuttering for weeks now – it isn’t terrible, and I don’t think they are going to be able to score with Kansas City or the Titans. The Steelers have their share of talent but they have been very sloppy, and playing some bad offense – there is most definitely the problem. They are going to have a problem with a good matchup in the tournament, regardless.
The Steelers aren’t likely going to be rolling through, as they lack a steady run D and a dangerous offense. They will have a rough road, no question.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a good defense, but making it work well enough to get to the Super Bowl will be tough. They have given up just an average of under 22/game this year. The Buccaneers fear nobody – and they’re not going to be overly concerned – given that their QB is Tom Brady. Tampa Bay gashed their share of teams with Brady and their receiving crew when they played throughout the year. But, they could be again facing some aggressive fronts on defense that have shown to be a problem for Tom Terrific in the regular season.
Tampa Bay doesn’t have a great path either – they may have to go up against front heavy teams like the Saints, or the Rams this postseason. All teams that can get at opposing QBs. And the Saints, by the way, have owned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beating them twice, by 46 combined points. It has not been pretty.
I cannot overstate the difference between these teams and their possible roads they have to battle through – Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay are both teams that are extremely tough to handle, one with their defense and the other with their scoring ability. But, I think Tampa Bay would get trashed by New Orleans, again, they are a bad matchup, bottom line – and would likely get beaten by Green Bay this time around with Rodgers and his crew as well. When the Bucs give up 280 or more in the air, they have been very susceptible, and there are a lot of really good passing teams in the NFC. The Buccaneers could end up going up against some of the best QBs the league has ever had play the game. Tampa Bay has struggled when they played mediocre passing games this year – how are the Bucs going to fight though against future HOFer’s? A huge problem for Tampa Bay is, they had as many great games as they have had stinkers.