Everyone who follows the Steelers, from fans to media and everyone in between, is talking about the playoff potential for the black and gold. As of right now they hold the first wild card spot, and that is what much of the focus has been on.
Inside the locker room, though, things are different. This is a team that wants more. They want to make the playoffs, and will get in there any way they can, but their goals are higher.
"We want the division," said safety Mike Mitchell. "We never want to back door into the playoffs. Obviously you will get in any way you can. We want to win the division. We want to run the North. But we will get in any way we can."
Right now the Cincinnati Bengals have a stronghold on the AFC North with an 8-2 record. The Steelers sit at 6-4, and with the injuries they have had to deal with it's not a bad place to be. But not good enough.
"There is no consolation," said Mitchell. "We are not in first place, we are not winning our division, so we are a little behind the eight ball there."
Where they are though, is not a horrible place. If they keep winning that is. As long as the W's keep coming, and they currently riding a two-game winning streak, they can at least control getting into the playoffs.
"All of the football has to come through us, has to come through Pittsburgh," said Mitchell. "We are involved in every single big game that is left. We play plenty of good teams that are playoff teams. If we control what we can control, which is winning those football games, we don't have to look over our shoulder and get help from anyone."
That all begins this Sunday at what should be a loud CenturyLink Field in Seattle when the Steelers take on a 5-5 Seahawks team that right now finds themselves on the outside looking in for the playoff hunt.
"It's going to be a tough test for us, a great test," said Mitchell. "We haven't been on the road for a month. To go into this environment will be an extremely tough challenge. I think we have the men in our locker room to get it done.
The Steelers prepare for the week 12 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks.
"This is a very aggressive, physical, good football team that is similar to us in that they are still trying to keep their playoff hopes alive. They are desperate for a win. It's going to be a hostile environment. It's a big challenge for us."
Of the Steelers remaining six games, three of them are against AFC North teams, all on the road. But Mitchell said they can't even think about those games right now. That this week is all that matters.
"As a whole we know we have the last six games and they are extremely critical for the overall outlook of our season, but you have to break it down," said Mitchell. "It's one week at a time, one game at a time. If not you will get overwhelmed. You have to be focused on one team, one task at a time. I think that is what we are doing."
And the veterans on the team are making certain the younger players know that is the way to go, that you can't look ahead, you can't look back. You just focus on today.
"I think it's the older guys showing that is how we are wired," said Mitchell. "It's about winning today. You show guys how you are focused by how you handle today, each day. It's showing them how I prepare throughout the week, how Will Gay prepares, how Will Allen prepares. I think the young guys just follow suit."