Early Playoff Chase at a Glance
The Steelers have put themselves into solid playoff position by winning 8 of their first 10 games including an impressive 5 out of 6 on the road.� With four home games left, the Steelers are poised to get a first round bye or home field through out the playoffs. However, to accomplish this feat, 3 critical realities remain for Pittsburgh down the stretch.
Dec 9/NY Jets and the AFC East race.� Regardless of what happens this weekend against the Vikes, the Steelers need to win when they face the Jets.� The Jets are sitting mightily a top the AFC East having beaten the Dolphins twice this year.� This gives the Jets the tiebreaker edge against the Dolphins in the AFC East.� Assuming the Jets were to win the East, the Steelers would garner a two game edge over New York by beating them on December 9th.�� The Dolphins, on the other hand, must go to San Francisco and New England late in the year and also play Denver this weekend.� You can bet that Miami will lose at least one more game. So, beating the Jets will give the Steelers an effective 3 game lead on New York � the most likely winner of the AFC East at this point.
Week 14 in Baltimore Ravens.� The Steelers can virtual clinch the division by beating the Ravens when they travel to Baltimore one week after they play the Jets.� These two games are hugely important.� If the Steelers beat the Ravens, they would secure a 4 game lead because of the division record tiebreaker advantage.� This does assume a few things, but even if the Steelers lose the next two weeks and beat the Ravens and the Ravens were to win the next two weeks, the Steelers would affectively have a 2 game edge on the Ravens with 3 games to play.� Again, the division tiebreaker would be in the Steeler�s favor.
Week 16 at home versus the Cleveland Browns.� Winning this game puts the Browns 4 back � not too much the Browns would be able to do to win the division.� The Browns are, afterall, a year or two away from being a very good football team.�
The three teams the Steelers need to beat are the Jets, Ravens and Browns � if they do, they will have 11 wins.� If they can just win one more game out of Detroit (winless), Minnesota (terrible) or Cincinnati (would like to win this one) � the Steelers will be division champs and will have a first round bye unless Miami wins all of their games.
The Playoff picture is looking very good for the Steelers, but then again, it�s only week 11 and we have a long way to go.