Ben Roethlisberger is out for Sunday’s game against New England. This much we know after he sustained a meniscus tear in his left knee in the first half of yesterday’s game (and then played the second half with the injury). He will have surgery, which Ian Rapoport termed a trim. Meniscus tears, while not season-ending (unless later in the year) do generally keep players out beyond the next game and the Steelers bye week. The Ravens game on the road, and the Dallas Cowboys game at home are very much in jeopardy of having no Roethlisberger as well, as they tend to be at least a four-week injury.
How quickly things swung in the AFC this week, in large part because of Roethlisberger’s injury. Landry Jones will start in his place, with Zach Mettenberger playing 3b to Jones’ 3a. Overall, the Steelers are 117-58 with Ben Roethlisberger starting. They are 12-10 when another quarterback threw the most passes. Basically, they go from a 10-11 win team to about an average team, historically, and score about 3 points less.
That gap was even bigger last year, with Roethlisberger out and both Michael Vick and Landry Jones playing. Jones struggled, throwing 4 interceptions on 55 attempts last year. The Titans, meanwhile, went 0-10 with Zack Mettenberger starting the last two seasons.
It comes in what was shaping up to be New England’s toughest challenge post-Brady return. As it turns out, with Roethlisberger getting hurt and the Steelers losing at Miami, Denver losing a second consecutive game at San Diego, and Oakland getting handled at home by Kansas City, New England is already all alone in first place in the AFC.
Here’s a look at the remaining schedule and quarterbacks likely to be faced by the Patriots over the last 10 weeks as they merely have to hold on to that lead.
- at Pittsburgh (Landry Jones);
- at Buffalo (Tyrod Taylor);
- Seattle (Russell Wilson);
- at San Francisco (Colin Kaepernick);
- at NY Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick);
- Los Angeles (Case Keenum);
- Baltimore (Joe Flacco);
- at Denver (Trevor Siemian);
- NY Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick);
- at Miami (Ryan Tannehill).
The three toughest offensive matchups were going to be the next three weeks, and now, it looks like the Patriots facing Tyrod Taylor and Russell Wilson will determine whether there is any intrigue at all atop the AFC. Pittsburgh has to weather the Roethlisberger injury, the AFC South is a mess and New England already emasculated the division-leading Texans, and the AFC West looks like it is going to cannibalize itself and add multiple losses to each team.