There's no place like home for the holidays, and for the Steelers, playing at home the next two weeks is the perfect holiday gift.
"It's going to be awesome," said center Maurkice Pouncey. "Our fans are amazing. When you can play in front of our home fans it's truly amazing and I know it's going to be a lot of fun.
"I know they are going to be excited. We have been away for two games and they are ready to see their Steelers play."
The Steelers host the Kansas City Chiefs at Heinz Field on Sunday at 1 p.m., and if they win, they are in the playoffs. The players are already expecting a playoff-like atmosphere at Heinz Field this week, with the fans at a fever pitch.
"We have the best fans in the nation," said cornerback William Gay. "You want to be in that atmosphere. We are glad to be back in Pittsburgh for two weeks. We have two great opponents coming in here. We just have to find a way to win.
"We just need the Terrible Towels going crazy. Hopefully we make them wave their arms all game. I need it to be rocking. Sometimes you see Heinz Field kind of shaking and that's what we need this week."
The Steelers have the back-to-back home games to close out the regular season against the Chiefs and the following week against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"We took care of our business on the road the last two weeks and now to go into these next two games with our fans behind us it's going to give us so much more of a boost," said tackle Marcus Gilbert. "The stadium is going to be rocking this week. We are excited to play in front of the great fans we have. The teams we are playing are in the hunt along with us. It's going to be a playoff atmosphere. It's going to be alive. I expect to see the stadium rocking on Sunday."
A look at the Chiefs:
Head Coach Mike Tomlin on NT Dontari Poe:**
"He is an elite nose guard. He is a former first-rounder. He is one of those unique, big-bodied guys. He is 340 pounds and is capable of playing a large number of snaps. He is similar to Haloti Ngata in that way. I can't think of many other 340 pound guys that play as many snaps as Poe as Ngata that we play. He is in good company from that standpoint. His statistics reflect that."
What the Steelers are saying:
Safety Shamarko Thomas on the race in the AFC:"It's definitely crazy. It goes up and down every week. It's exciting. We can be in control of what happens to us if we keep winning."
Rookie wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who was named Sports Illustrated's Rising Star, on what he sees from the veterans this time of year:
"You see the sense of urgency and focus the veterans have. We have to come out with that same sense of urgency, make plays and stay focused. We just have to focus on Atlanta this week. I have to have a sense of urgency in my prep and games. I have to continue to work, continue to better myself and listen to my coaches."