It appears two rookie quarterbacks will be leading their respective teams into the postseason -- T.J. Yates in Houston and, with a win this week, the Bengals' Andy Dalton. History shows that first-year quarterbacks have had mixed results in the playoffs at best.
Dan Marino, Bernie Kosar, Jim Everett, Todd Marinovich, Shaun King, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and Mark Sanchez are the only rookie quarterbacks since the NFL-AFL merger to take their teams to the playoffs. Their combined playoff record is 6-9, with a total of 15 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions and an average of 16 points a game. None of the rookies reached the Super Bowl, though four (King, Roethlisberger, Flacco and Sanchez) got their teams as far as the conference championship game. The other five rookie signal-callers all lost in the opening round.
In short, there isn't much reason to believe that Houston or Cincinnati will get very far this year.
Losing road record doesn't bode well
Prior to last year, no other team was able to pull off the feat. Though the Super Bowl is played at a neutral site, it often may as well be an away game. Among this year's playoff-bound squads, the Ravens own a 3-4 road record. A win this week in Cincinnati would at least get them to 4-4, but a loss would give them a 3-5 mark away from home. That would not be a good sign for Baltimore's Super Bowl aspirations.
The Cowboys are still in the mix for the NFC East crown and the No. 4 seed, but they also have a 3-4 road record. Of course, a loss in New York this week will knock them out of the division title race, but a win will get them to 4-4 away from Dallas. However, the news isn't much better for teams that are .500 on the road. Only the 1979 Steelers, 1997 Broncos and 2006 Colts have won the Super Bowl after going 4-4 on the road in the regular season.
The Packers defied all odds last year, but I have serious doubts that another team that has played at .500 or worse on the road will buck the trend this season.
Nobody better than Steelers after a loss
The Steelers haven't lost back-to-back games in two years. Seven times in that span, the Steelers have won the week after dropping a game, something they usually accomplish with a stout defense. On two occasions, the bounce-back game resulted in a shutout, including last week's win over the Rams. In all seven of those games, the Steelers have allowed just 81 points (11.5 per game).
This sort of resiliency serves a team well in the playoffs, and makes the Steelers tough to beat when it counts. Since 2005, Pittsburgh has a 9-2 postseason record, with the defense surrendering just 21 points a game.