The Steelers and Patriots have to wait another week before they’ll play their first postseason games of this season, so there’s a while to go before we’ll know if the two teams will be matching up in a repeat of last year’s AFC title game.
If they do both win next weekend and advance, there will be a lot of discussion about last year’s 36-17 Patriots win and the groin injury that kept running back Le'Veon Bell out of most of it. Bell says that leaves him feeling like the team never “finished what we kind of started” and he feels like the same thing happened in this year’s regular season meeting between the teams because of the calf injury to wide receiver Antonio Brown.
The Steelers hope to have Brown back next weekend and Bell said Wednesday that he hopes that there’s no reprise of either issue as the postseason plays out.
“We want to feel like we’re going in full power, full strength for the playoffs and if we lose, then we’ll be like ‘OK, we lost at full strength, there’s nothing we can say about it. There’s no more excuses now,'” Bell said, via ESPN.com. “We’ve got to get back there, get there and win games and if guys beat us the way we are, then so be it.”
The Steelers will be missing one significant piece in linebacker Ryan Shazier, but the bye week should help Brown and anyone else dealing with less severe injuries get ready for the divisional round. That would present as close to the scenario that Bell is asking for as possible for the push for a better finish this time around.