5 keys to the Steelers’ playoff future

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Nov 29, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril (56) rushes past Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert (77) as Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws the ball in the second half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

1. Keep Ben Roethlisberger upright

Big Ben has taken a beating this year.

He missed four games earlier in the year due to a sprained MCL, and had a scare against Oakland which caused him to come into the game in relief of Landry Jones. He also self-entered himself into concussion protocol against Seattle. Although the Steelers went 2-2 in games which Roethlisberger missed, his presence is the key to the Steelers success.

The loss of Maurkice Pouncey and Kelvin Beachum have proven to be deterrents to Pittsburgh’s offensive success, but not detrimental. Alejandro Villaneuva and Cody Wallace have filled in admirably, but it hasn’t been perfect.

Keeping Roethlisberger healthy falls on the entire team. Roethlisberger must make quick decisions and not sacrifice his body. DeAngelo Williams must find creases in opposing defenses to take pressure off the passing attack. The receivers must get open quickly to help Roethlisberger find them, and the offensive line must play well.

The line was mauled against Cincinnati in their first meeting, stalling a majority of the team’s offensive chances. Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins had his way with the Steelers offensive line and was able to get pressure up the middle. That cannot happen in their second meeting this weekend.

With No. 7 on the field, the Steelers always have a chance. The team may be able to beat teams such as Baltimore and Cleveland with Landry Jones at the helm, but it’s unlikely that the Oklahoma product can lead this team to the playoffs.

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Big Ben needs to be on the field if the Steelers are to have success.