Roethlisberger Decision Likely Handed Down Today

As Mark Maske of the Washington Post reported on Monday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will likely announce a multi-game suspension of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at some point on Wednesday.

The "safe" bet on the duration of Roethlisberger's suspension is 2-to-4 games. Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com wouldn't be surprised if it's much more than that, and after reading the report of the investigation, nor would I. After seeing the Steelers' 2010 regular season schedule, however, I'm sticking with the 2-to-4 games suspension, along with a substantial fine, for Roethlisberger.

Of the four games to open the Steelers' 2010 schedule, just one comes against a divisional opponent, Week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens, and the Steelers are off in Week 5. A four-game suspension for Roethlisberger would minimize the impact on the Steelers' chances in the AFC North, and the bye week is placed perfectly to allow Roethlisberger two weeks of practice time before he makes his 2010 debut.

Five of the Steelers' final 10 games of the season are in prime-time, including three straight against New Orleans, Cincinnati, and New England, so an 8-game suspension for Roethlisberger is unlikely to happen. The NFL may not mind it's network partners discussing how swiftly and severely they punished Roethlisberger for violating the league's personal conduct policy, but NBC and ESPN would not be thrilled with Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon playing quarterback for the Steelers in a prime-time game competing against the World Series for viewers. (Who are we kidding? The NFL would still win the ratings war.)

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