The Pittsburgh Steelers are 11-2.
Outside of the Kansas City Chiefs who are 12-1, this is the second best record in the NFL.
The Steelers started their grueling 12 day- 3 game swing at 10-0 and have since dropped their last two against Washington and Buffalo.
Where does this put them in the overall AFC playoff picture?
1. They are currently in first place in the AFC North.
Cleveland is in second place with a 9-3 record and has a crucial divisional game against 7-5 Baltimore tonight on Monday Night Football.
The Steelers and Browns do meet again in Week 17 on January 3 so depending on how both teams play in the next 2+ weeks, that game could be more meaningful.
Besides that game, the Steelers have the Bengals and the Colts in the next two weeks.
2. Seeds and Home Field Advantage Are Too Close To Call.
AFC Playoff Standings 2020:
— Mike Dixon (@MikeDixon_VSD) December 13, 2020
Right now, the Chiefs are the top seed in the AFC.
The top seed is the only one to get a first-round bye in the 2020 playoff structure.
And as the top seed, the Chiefs would secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Chiefs have New Orleans, Atlanta, and the Los Angeles Chargers as their remaining three games of the regular season.
One of the biggest question marks for the Chiefs is if Drew Brees will be back for their game next week.
Talked to Drew Brees after the #Saints loss here in Philly, regarding his possible return says he's "close"
*admits he's thrown in his rehab to gauge his progress
*feels he's made more progress but still must meet undisclosed benchmarks
— Mike Nabors (@MikeNabors) December 14, 2020
3. Steelers Are Not Peaking At The Right Time
And it may not be entirely their fault.
The Steelers have lost their magic from just a couple of weeks ago.
Their schedule has been seriously affected by COVID-19.
Delaying the Ravens game 6 days hampered their practice, rest, and preparation for Washington, and it showed.
Also, the running game has suffered since James Conner went out with COVID-19.
The other factor is that in addition to the tough schedule in recent weeks, the Steelers had their bye week way back in Week 4.
It was an unexpected bye because their opponent that week, the Tennessee Titans, also had a massive COVID-19 outbreak.
4. It’s Not All Doom And Gloom
Now that the 12 day, 3 game schedule is behind them, the team will be able to return to a normal practice and preparation schedule for the upcoming games.
This team rolled to 10-0, and it was not unexpected that opponents would be trying to play their best football to beat the NFL’s only remaining undefeated team.
They qualified for the playoffs before they stepped onto the field last night ironically because the Chiefs defeated the Dolphins.
Coach Tomlin will get this team refreshed and refocused.
Big Ben knows what’s at stake.
After yesterday’s loss to Buffalo, he said:
“We lost two. We’re facing some adversity. But we’re not hitting the panic button. Offensively, we’re not very good & that starts with me. We all need to be better and I think we will be…the way we are playing now is unacceptable.”
The number one seed, home field, and bye week would benefit the Steelers more than anyone else in the AFC because of all the COVID interruptions they’ve had this year.
And it’s certainly within reach.
The Steelers need to turn the tide now and go on a winning streak now to try to secure it.NEXT: Rocky Bleier Sounds Off In Steelers Loss To Washington