The 2013 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers can be defined by two key trends: stacking wins, and stacking losses.
That trend continued yesterday as the Steelers piggybacked their Thanksgiving Day loss to the Baltimore Ravens with yet another crushing loss to the Miami Dolphins, whom they were battling for the final playoff spot in the AFC.
Those back-to-back losses came on the heels of a three-game winning streak that saw the Steelers slowly claw their way back into contention after losing their first four games of the season.
Some might have even said that Pittsburgh stood the best chance of reaching the playoffs at 5-6 entering that Ravens game, whom they had already beaten earlier this season. Even after that loss, they still found themselves in good position to secure a playoff spot based on the schedules of the remaining contenders.
That really doesn’t seem to mean much now with both the Ravens and Dolphins at 7-6 and the Steelers dropping to 5-8.
Of course, the Steelers also flip-flopped pairs of wins and losses after their first four games, continuing the aforementioned trend: four losses, two wins, two losses, three wins, and, currently, two losses.
With each peak and valley rode a wave of emotion. The pitiful first month gutted the fan base. Then there was a glimmer of hope after the first two victories, only to be beaten back down by a pair of defeats that were devastating for very different reasons, first to the Oakland Raiders and then to the New England Patriots.
Standing at that point at 2-6, the mock drafts were already in full force before the Steelers fought their way back to relevance, riding a three-game winning streak over the Buffalo Bills, the Detroit Lions, and then the Cleveland Browns.
At that time, I advised you to throw away your mock drafts, because they were rendered pointless at that time with the Steelers back in playoff contention.
I think it’s probably now safe to start scouting the college tape and working on your mocks, because this team now looks like it’s headed for its first top 10 pick since 2000, when they selected Plaxico Burress eighth overall.
Even I am prepared to acknowledge that this season is basically lost with the conference losses mounting. And the next two games are against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Green Bay Packers. They’re playing for pride and contracts now. Even though the other contending teams are looking at losses themselves in the next three games, the Steelers just don’t look like they’ll be winning much any time soon in a scenario in which they’ll in all likelihood have to win out.