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Any help, Belichick?
December 28, 2009 - Buck Frank
The Steelers, of course, have to win at 1 p.m. Sunday in Miami. If they lose they're done.
Let's assume they win the game.
Also at 1 p.m. Sunday, the Steelers need the New England Patriots to knock off the Houston Texans. If the Texans were to win that game, the Steelers would then need the Ravens to lose in Oakland AND the Broncos lose to Kansas City at 4 p.m. AND the Jets to lose to Cincinnati at 8:30 p.m.
If the Patriots beat the Texans, the Steelers would then need the Ravens to lose in Oakland at 4 p.m. OR the Jets to lose to Cincinnati at 8:30 p.m. The Denver game wouldn't matter.
Obviously, the second scenario is much more favorable for the Steelers.
That means New England coach Bill Belichick could help make things much worse for the Steelers by not playing his starters throughout the game and losing to the Texans. Would you blame him? Right now, the Patriots can do no better than a third seed and no worse than a fourth. The differences in those two seeds may not outweigh the chance to help keep the Steelers out of playoffs.
He would also be helping the Texans, a team with no playoff experience, get into the playoffs. The Patriots will be playing a fifth or sixth seed in the first round, and I'm guessing the Texans or the Jets (rookie QB) would be a much better matchup for them.
Cincinnati also may face the same scenario Sunday night. At that point, the Steelers may need a Bengals win to get into the playoffs. Do the Bengals really want to face a Steelers team they've barely beaten twice this year for a third time in the first round of the playoffs? I wouldn't think so.
So the Steelers need help this Sunday, but they need the most help from the two teams that will be hosting AFC wild-card games the first weekend of the playoffs.
The guess here is the gift-giving season is over in New England and Cincinnati.