Super Bowl XLVII Dossier: Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers are arguably the most successful NFL franchise in history, at least in the modern era, as Pittsburgh has reached eight Super Bowls all-time – tied for the most with Dallas – and has hoisted a league-record six Lombardi Trophies. To add a seventh this February in New Orleans, the Steelers are 18/1.
Pittsburgh certainly had one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history in the mid-1970s, a team loaded with Hall of Famers like Mean Joe Greene, Jack Ham, Jack Lambert and Mel Blount on defense and Terry Bradshaw,  Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth and Mike Webster on offense. Of course they were coached by Hall of Famer Chuck Noll. That group went 4-for-4 in Super Bowls, winning in ’1974, ’75, ’78 and ’79. Bradshaw was a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
The Steelers wouldn’t win another title until they drafted in 2004 a semi-unknown rookie quarterback named Ben Roethlisberger in the first round out of Mid-American Conference school Miami of Ohio. Big Ben got the Steelers back to the Super Bowl in his second season, a 21-10 victory over Seattle in Detroit’s Ford Field. Receiver Hines Ward was named MVP of that game, in which Pittsburgh was a 4-point favorite.
Another Pittsburgh receiver was named the MVP of Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Santonio Holmes won the award after catching a six-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger in the final minute for a 27-23 win over 6.5-point underdog Arizona in one of the greatest Super Bowl finishes ever. Pittsburgh became the first No. 6 seed to win a Super Bowl.
The Steelers will have some work to do to reach the big game again this season. Entering Week 14, Pittsburgh is 7-5 (5-6-1 ATS) and tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for the final AFC wild-card spot. The Steelers just finished a three-game stretch without an injured Roethlisberger and struggled offensively in going 1-2. Working in Pittsburgh’s favor is that three of its final four games are at home: versus San Diego, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Plus Roethlisberger should be back from injury for those.
The Steelers will be favored in their home games and should they beat the Bengals would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of sweeping Cincinnati. Back in Week 7, Pittsburgh won 24-17 in Cincinnati. The Steelers are 4-1 at home this season (2-2-1 and 0-5 over/under). The loss came in Week 11 against Baltimore when Roethsliberger was sidelined.
Pittsburgh’s lone road game is at Dallas, which is fighting for its own playoff life in the NFC. Dallas will be a slight favorite there if everyone is healthy. Because a division title looks nearly out of reach with Baltimore owning a two-game lead in the AFC North, the Steelers would have to win three playoff road games – possibly at Denver, New England and Houston – to earn a trip to New Orleans.
The Steelers were able to win three road playoff games three seasons ago, but it’s likely that Pittsburgh’s postseason fate will rest on that Bengals rematch. While the Bengals were routed 35-7 at Heinz Field last year, Cincinnati is one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now.