I woke up today and took a quick look at the standings, just to see an early-season lay of the land.
We have the same record as the Detroit (0-16 last year) Lions.
Jesus Christ on a Cracker.
Yes, the Steelers have a losing record for the first time since the Bungles last defeated them (also in Week 3) of the 2006 season. The schedule parallels do not end there, folks. If you recall, our first attempt at a title defense this millennium invovled a Week 4 opponent, you guessed it: The San Diego Chargers.
Slogging around the interwebs and local dearth of quality reporting two main and divergent rationales/reactions to the Steelers' schedule and resulting season outlook generalized:
"Season's over. Fucking Ravens are winning it. Draft Tebow."
"Two road losses. Not the end of the world. Hold serve at home and beat Detroit, Cleveland, maybe K.C. or Miami on the road and get us in to the playoffs one way or the other."
I have a few reactions to these sentiments:
Are we completely screwed?
No. But our chances of option #2 take a considerable hit if we cannot pull out the win Sunday. 1-3 teams don't make the playoffs.
Are the Ravens to be handed the division?
No. The NFL landscape is routinely littered with over-application of the phrase "Must-Win" or "Do-or-Die" as labels for games. But, we're just about there. It is hard to ignore the boastful blatherings (just as the stench) eminating from Baltimore. As in 2006, The Steelers and Ravens will meet in Weeks 12 & 16. Let's hope firstly, those games are meaningful to our playoff chances and then secondly, that we avoid repeating the 0-2 performance the last time that was the case. We can help assure the former by winning in the immediate.
So, what the fuck can we do?
Win our next game. For at least the next month. I, for one, hope that Messers Tomlin and LeBeau have the entire squad convinced of the significance of THIS WEEK'S game. Indeed, it is easy to get ahead of ourselves, but with the Ravens holding a 2-game lead in the division and a few up-start AFC teams turning unexpectant heads (Jets, Bengals, Broncos), the prospect of a dog-fight for a Wild Card birth looms. A loss to any one of our next 3 games (SAN DIEGO, @Detroit, CLEVELAND) all but buries us. We'll deal with the currently undefeated Lord Favre and his ricketty ass if and when we can afford to.
In 2006 the Steelers lost in that Week 4 game to the Chargers. We simply must find away to avoid repeating history in the short-term if we hope to do so in the long.