With the regular season nearly finished, the Steelers are in an enviable position in AFC Playoffs. They control their own destiny, and become one step closer to Wild Card weekend with a home win over Denver.
The Steelers last-season run has been made possible by an offense that is running on all cylinders. Pittsburgh has scored 30 points or more in six straight games, and Antonio Brown has over 600 receiving yards over that span.
After today’s game, the Steelers will be level with all other AFC teams in terms of number of conference games played. That makes it much easier to determine tiebreakers, and project which teams will be moving forward.
Look out Denver. With today’s win, the Steelers are on track for a rematch of today’s game at Sports Authority Field in three weeks. The Steelers are two games behind Kansas City in AFC Conference record, so the six seed is as high as they can hope to climb in the standings.
Here’s how the Steelers look after 15 weeks:
The Division Leaders:
1. New England Patriots — 12-2 — Clinched AFC East
2. Cincinnati Bengals — 11-3
3. Denver Broncos — 10-4
4. Houston Texans — 7-7
The Wild Card Contenders:
5. Kansas City Chiefs — 9-5
6. Pittsburgh Steelers — 9-5
7. New York Jets — 9-5
Current position: 6th in AFC, trail KC on AFC record tiebreaker
Remaining schedule: at Ravens (4-9), at Browns (3-10)
If the Season Ended Today:
With a win over Denver, Pittsburgh would end the week as the second Wild Card team. They’ve only trailed because of playing one less AFC game, which will be remedied today. They would visit the Colts in the first round of the playoffs, who they dismantled at home two weeks ago.
What Needs to Happen: A good start would be winning out. It shouldn’t be that hard given the schedule, and would guarantee Pittsburgh sees the postseason. It would be great if the Jets lost to New England next week, and the Chiefs losing streak came to an end. Of all the AFC playoff teams, the Colts present the best matchup for Pittsburgh.
Who’s Left on the Schedule: Going to Baltimore is never easy, but it gets better when Jimmy Clausen is under center. This game was originally scheduled for Sunday Night Football, but was flexed out after injuries derailed Baltimore’s season. The Steelers wrap up the regular season against the Browns, whom they beat handily 30-9 earlier this season.
Best-Case Scenario: The season ends today. The Steelers have great offensive momentum, and would salivate at the chance to play the Colts again. If their offense stays healthy, Pittsburgh is the NFL’s most dangerous Wild Card team.