Here is a look at the Steelers final four opponents on the 2008 schedule as the Steelers make a run towards the AFC North crown and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys – The Steelers get the Dallas Cowboys at home who are coming off of three straight wins and are little banged up on both sides of the ball. RB Marion Barber (dislocated right pinkie toe) and OLB DeMarcus Ware (hyper-extended left knee) remain day-to-day but should be available to play. G Kyle Kosier (foot) is out for the season. It is also interesting to note as of late that the Cowboys have not had a winning record in December/January since the 1996 season. In the past 11 seasons, they are 18-36, including five playoff losses. The extended forecast for Sunday is it will be mostly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of snow showers with highs in the lower 30s. As of right now the Steelers are a 3 point favorite. Also considering that the game could come down to the kicking game, one would have to give an edge to Jeff Reed at home. This is a game the Steelers certainly can win considering how well the defense has been playing.
Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens will certainly be looking for a playoff spot and revenge for an earlier season loss to the Steelers and rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has slowly improved. The Ravens however have not really been tested the second half of the season and have not fared well against tougher defensive opponents this year. Baltimore will have home field on their side and both teams for the most part embrace the cold weather. This is certainly another winnable game for the Steelers.
Tennessee Titans – Depending on what the Titans do in their two games versus Cleveland and Houston leading up to this game will better decide the tone of it. Should the Steelers win against both Dallas and Baltimore and Tennessee were to lose even once, then home field advantage throughout the playoffs will still be on the line and the winner of this game will be in the drivers seat for it. The Titans pride their selves on running the ball and the Steelers pride themselves on stopping the run. The Jets have given the road map on how to beat the Titans and they truly are for the most part very beatable by a strong defensive team. Once again the Steelers will be at a disadvantage on the road, but this is truly a winnable game and could have a ton of spoils to the victor.
Cleveland Browns – Depending on how things play out both conference and division wise, will determine if the Steelers need to play or rest starters for this game. The Browns are now down to their third string quarterback and regardless, the Steelers will want to close out the Browns in a season sweep at home. The Steelers should be able to win this game regardless if the starters play only a half or not as the Browns are already looking forwards to next season.
In closing, I see the upcoming game against the Cowboys as the toughest game on the scheduled remaining games for the Steelers. I think both Baltimore and Tennessee are highly overrated and both can be defeated even in their own stadium. Regardless I will say the Steelers might stumble in one of these games, but should make it through the final four games with a 3-1 record, toting the AFC North crown and no worse than the number two seed for the playoffs.
What are your thoughts on the final four games?