But does the Vikings game matter even more? I believe it does.
The Steelers (or at least the team's fans) thought this season should have been a cakewalk. The team returned nearly all of its starters. The schedule was much easier. And Coach Tomlin would keep the crew focused.
But after six games, this Steeler team hasn't played like a Super Bowl contender. Maybe that's a little harsh seeing as though the team is 4-2. But the Steelers schedule thus far has been a joke. Football Outsiders ranks it as the second easiest schedule in the league.
The four teams they beat have a combined record of 4-19.
San Diego (2-3)
Tennessee, Detroit, and Cleveland are probably three of the five worst teams in the league. And the Steelers only beat one of them by double digits. Although they've outplayed each of their opponents, little mistakes have kept the Steelers from closing the deal in losses and blowout wins against lesser competition.
The Steelers have no wins against teams with a winning record. The two losses were to Cincinatti (4-2) and Chicago (3-2). Granted they were on the road, but neither of those teams are juggernauts. They are not teams a Super Bowl contender would lose to.
Nonetheless, at 4-2, the Steelers are in fine shape to position themselves for a playoff run. But, the joke part of the schedule is over. Of the last 10 games, 7 of them are against legitimate playoff contenders. The team needs to start playing better to keep itself in contention.
Which brings us to why this game is so important. If the Steelers want to show the world that they are still an elite team, this is the time to do it. At home. Against the 6-0 Vikings. A win would put the team in great shape at 5-2 going into the bye. Confidence would be high. Polamalu will have time to rest. And the early collapses will be forgotten. A loss would leave the team at 4-3, with no quality wins. And a tough schedule left to face. It's only a one game difference, but it seems a lot bigger than that.
It's easy to forget, but at this time last year, Mike Tomlin had no signature wins. He got enough last season for an entire career. But it's time to get the first one in 2009.
I'm avoiding predictions - the team lost the last two games I predicted - but the Steelers are 4.5 point favorites. Time to remind America, and the purple, Wrangler-loving quarterback, that the black and gold are still World Champions.