It seems like it was just yesterday when the Pittsburgh Steelers were entering a downward spiral and looked to have a snowball's chance in hell of making the playoffs. But here we are, as Pittsburgh manhandled the Carolina Panthers to win their fifth straight game, bringing their overall record to 6-2-1.
With the offense clicking behind Ben Roethlisberger and the chances of Le'Veon Bell returning to the team increasing by the day, the Steelers look like a dangerous team entering the postseason. In fact, their experience could favor them if they were to face the young Kansas City Chiefs.
The Steelers offense looked strong all-around when competing against a Panthers team that ranks among the best in the league.
When analyzing the quarterback position, many look compare the touchdown-to-interception ratio. However, in the case of Roethlisberger on Thursday night, let's look at his touchdowns-to-incompletions. Big Ben had five scores to three dropped passes. Insanity.
Roethlisberger's passes were on the money, and his rapport with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster looks to be at an all-time high. Both had long touchdown receptions against a Panthers secondary that looked downright foolish.
But let's not forget the Le'Veon Bell factor.
Bell might have his wish come true, as he won't have to be the bell-cow running back in this Steelers offense. Second-year running back James Conner could be used as the primary rushing option after he has proven to be one of the best rushers against stacked boxes, while Bell can take over on passing down opportunities. A Conner-Bell duo could make for a dangerous rushing attack, and could be the equivalent of the Alvin Kamara-Mark Ingram tandem in New Orleans (but even better).
James Conner scored his 10th rushing TD in the 1st quarter of game 9.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 9, 2018
That's more than Le'Veon Bell has ever rushed for in an entire season. pic.twitter.com/KRM6LjGYcr
While yes, the Chiefs are a young, explosive team with Patrick Mahomes at the helm, the second-year quarterback hasn't played in clutch playoff situations and their defense is certainly not equipped to handle a playoff atmosphere. Mahomes won't be able to play catch-up, as Kansas City's defense is among the worst in the league, while Pittsburgh's is ranked in the top 10.
The Steelers are going to beat the Chiefs in the playoffs again, aren’t they?— Cousin Sal (@TheCousinSal) November 9, 2018
This is a different team than what Kansas City faced earlier on this season, and the playoff-experienced Steelers could potentially have their number this winter. The drama blinded us a bit in the early going, but now that the Steelers are coming into form, their experience is bound to play a significant factor this year.