How the Ben Roethlisberger Injury Impacts the Pittsburgh Steelers' Playoff Hopes

Ben Roethlisberger may not be out for the season, but how much does his injury impact the Steelers?

When Ben Roethlisberger hit the turf after being clipped by St. Louis Rams safety Mark Barron in the Edward Jones Dome during the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 3 game, everything got called into question.

Most obvious was Roethlisberger's health. I'm too squeamish to think about it for too long, but it's a small miracle that he's out for only four to six weeks after sustaining just an MCL sprain and a bone bruise.

Then there was the unknowable fantasy impact on Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell, two of the most valuable assets in the game.

And in terms of actual football, the Steelers lost the best quarterback in the league through three weeks of action, according to our Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, which indicate how well above expectation-level a player as performed.

Roethlisberger's score of 52.46 is still just a bit better than Tom Brady's 51.66, and Ben's Passing NEP through three weeks would have ranked 13th at the end of last season. That's how good he was.

But without Roethlisberger -- and now with Michael Vick -- how does Pittsburgh look for the rest of the season?

With or Without You

After the dust has settled on Week 3, the Steelers own a 2-1 record and sit at ninth in our power rankings. Can they keep that up until he returns? Or could they still push for the postseason without Roethlisberger all year? Here's what our algorithms have to say.

RoethlisbergerHealthy for SeasonOut 6 WeeksOut for Season
Projected Record9.0-7.08.4-7.67.9-8.1
Playoff Odds47.7%34.8%26.5%
Division Odds32.4%23.1%17.6%
Conference Champions7.1%5.8%2.9%
Super Bowl3.6%2.6%1.2%

Pittsburgh's playoff hopes would be sitting at nearly a coin flip if Roethlisberger was still healthy, but those odds drop to roughly 35% if he does take 6 weeks to heal. A 6-week absence also also drops their division odds by nearly 10 percentage points. Part of that is because two division games -- one against the Ravens and one against the Bengals -- fall within that six-week span.

Their next 6 opponents -- Baltimore (15th in our power rankings), San Diego (20th), Arizona (1st), Kansas City (14th), Cincinnati (8th), and Oakland (28th) -- aren't exactly pushovers for a Vick-led team.

Of course, if Roethlisberger can't return to the field all season, things get pretty bleak in comaparison. The Steelers would still have a solid enough chance to make the postseason, but their chance at winning the Conference or Super Bowl are sliced significantly.

If Roethlisberger can come back within his initial timeline, then there's no reason to panic in Pittsburgh, but things wouldn't be looking good if the injury was worse.