MNF Preview: Steelers vs 49ers

A meaningful game gets even more so after Sunday's action.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Just looking at this weeks schedule weeks ago, you knew that this game was going to be an important one in deciding playoff standings in both conferences. Then, just last week, it appeared that Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger injured himself to the point where he would be doubtful for this game, making the interest for it even more so. Finally, just yesterday, with San Diego beating Baltimore, the Saints winning, and Green Bay losing, the door opened up for a whole new level of possibilities for this game.

For Pittsburgh, sitting at 10-3, a win gives them the one game edge they would need on Baltimore to wrest the AFC North from them despite losing two games to Baltimore. Also, with Houston's inexplicable loss to the Carolina Panthers, that also opens the door for a possible one seed in the AFC for Pittsburgh, meaning home field throughout the playoffs.

Nobody has to tell you how huge that would be, but I will. It would be HUGE!

In a game that want from important to crucial, you can all but guarantee that Roethlisberger will hobble his ass out there to give his team the best chance they have to win. No disrespect to backup Charlie Batch, but the Steelers need number 7 under center to win and they will have him.

For San Francisco, this game is about keeping pace with the Saints in order to get that first week playoff bye. At this point in the year, every team is banged up and a week off in January would be immeasurably helpful to a physical team like the 49ers. Also, with the loss by the Packers yesterday, the door is still open for the number 1 seed in the NFC. It's highly unlikely they can catch the Pack with 2 weeks remaining but hey, stranger things have happened, just look at the Denver Broncos.

Tonight's game between the Steelers and the 49ers is going to be a physical showdown between two of the toughest teams in the league this year. It's going to be a throwback, low scoring and big hitting, with both teams fighting for every inch like a starving man for a piece of bread.

If you love football, tune into this game at 8:20 pm on ESPN, because it's going to be the closest thing to the playoffs that you will see in December.