The Pittsburgh Steelers put themselves in great position Sunday night by beating the Baltimore Ravens. They are now in position to not only win the division crown but also enter the playoffs as the #1 seed.
Yes, I said it. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who many predicted would be lucky to finish @ .500 this season because of the suspension of their starting quarterback and an aging defense, are capable of finishing with the best record in the AFC.
With that will come home field advantage throughout the post season.
Only 2 teams at this point have a better record, the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC who they already beat, and the team that matters the most... the New England Patriots in the AFC. And although the Steelers already lost to New England, they are in position to finish one game better, with a 13-3 record to the Patriots 12-4.
Wishful thinking? Maybe. Will it take some luck? Absolutely.
It all starts with the Steelers keeping their focus and winning out, which is certainly possible barring anymore serious injuries. A first round bye could do wonders for the Steelers health wise and set them up for a good run.
Now let us look at the Patriots...
The New England Patriots have been an anomaly this season. Despite ranking middle of the pack statistically, with a suspect defense, and no deep threat offensively, they have pulled out some very impressive wins.
They deserve great praise for what they have accomplished this far and I will be the first person to give it to them. They clearly have the best coaching in the business. Coaching that makes the most out of the personnel that they have to work with.
However, heading into the final four games of the season they face a very tough schedule, one in which it is very possible they can lose two games, thus thrusting the Steelers into first place in the conference.
We already know NE is susceptible to the occasional let down as well, as was proven in their loss against Cleveland.
First, they head to Chicago (9-3) to play a team that has been comfortably winning under the radar all season long. A very tough team that can easily be overlooked by NE, especially after just playing such a hyped game against their division rival Jets. This game has trap written all over it.
The Bears have lost only three games, two of which by a field goal. They have one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL. A defense that matches up well with the Patriot's short yardage offense. And they have a more than capable offense to get the job done.
Chicago is coming off a great win over a very tough Green Bay and are leading their division with an undefeated 4-0 record.
This will be an interesting game to say the least and the outcome will certainly tell us a whole lot about both the teams involved. And with a little terrible towel luck, maybe things can fall Chicago's way.
Next, New England hosts the very tough Green Bay Packers (8-4), who have not lost a single game all season by more than three points.
The Packers have one of the very best quarterbacks in the league as well, in Aaron Rodgers, and present a very tough match up all across the board.
I would not be surprised at all to see Green Bay win this one. I think they are the best team in the NFC, behind only Atlanta. They may very well do Pittsburgh a huge favor in this one.
After being shaken up against these two very tough NFC teams ( i can't believe I actually just said that), the Patriots take on two division foes who will be looking for payback and will be looking to play spoiler to a team and coach they despise.
First they head to Buffalo, a team they beat by only one score earlier in the season at their own house. This time they play in Buffalo, and people are starting to realize that Buffalo does represent a challenge. Sure their record is only 2-10, but when you are talking of division rivals—throw all records out. Not to mention, NE lost to Cleveland when they owned a 2-5 record.
Next they play Miami at home, another division rival who will be looking for payback and looking to play spoiler.
However, playing on the road has been a positive for Miami this season. They hold a very strong 5-1 record on the road this season and many people have come to know that Miami is a very tough team who has been hindered by a very tough schedule.
I also think that Miami is going to give the Jets a scare, if not win outright, before New York comes to Pittsburgh and loses. So we don't need to worry about the Jets as far as home field is concerned. They could be on a four game slide starting with NE and ending with Chicago.
Had Miami played in the AFC or NFC West, they would be sporting a division crown. In fact, I will take this opportunity to predict what I feel will actually be a 7-9 team winning their division and making it into the playoffs—the St. Louis Rams.
The Rams will finish the season with only one more win and will finish tied with Seattle. However, by way of the tie-break, St. Louis will win the division. They will get into the playoffs while many other more deserving teams, with better records, will not.
"Mark it down, bank on it". Now back to the matter at hand...
I feel it is very possible for New England to finish the season with two losses out of those four games, which is saying a lot, considering they have only lost two of their last 12 games. But I am saying just that. I also feel it is possible for the Steelers to win out.
With a little luck and players getting healthy, as opposed to hurt, I expect it to happen.