If the Steelers want to make it to the postseason, first and foremost they must take care of their own business.
If the Steelers win out, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns over the next three weeks, they would win the AFC North based on a better overall record than the Baltimore Ravens.
There are other scenarios that could come in to play, but right now the straightest path is winning out. And that includes beating the Ravens in a Christmas day matchup at Heinz Field.
Right now the Steelers (8-5) are in first place in the AFC North coming off a win over the Buffalo Bills, coupled with a loss by the Ravens (7-6) to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.
If the season were to end today, which we know it doesn't, the Steelers would win the AFC North. But there is still a lot of football to be played.
Here is a breakdown of the standings, remaining schedules for each team in the playoff race, and the playoff picture as of Dec. 17.
AFC East - New England Patriots: 11-2 – at Denver (8-5), New York Jets (4-9), at Miami (8-5)
AFC West - Kansas City Chiefs: 10-3 – Tennessee (7-6), Denver (8-5), at San Diego (5-8)
AFC North - Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-5 – at Cincinnati (5-7-1), Baltimore (7-6), Cleveland (0-13)
AFC South - Houston Texans: 7-6 – Jacksonville (2-11), Cincinnati (5-7-1), at Tennessee (7-6)
Wild Card Race
Oakland Raiders: 10-3 – at San Diego (5-8), Indianapolis (6-7), at Denver (8-5)
Miami Dolphins: 9-5 – at Buffalo (6-7), New England (11-2)
Denver Broncos: 8-5 – New England (11-2), at Kansas City (10-3), Oakland (10-3)
Baltimore Ravens: 7-6 – Philadelphia (5-8), at Pittsburgh (8-5), at Cincinnati (5-7-1)
Tennessee Titans: 7-6 – at Kansas City (10-3), at Jacksonville (2-11), Houston (7-6)
AFC PLAYOFF STANDINGS
|1.||New England Patriots||11||2||0||.846|
|2.||Kansas City Chiefs||10||3||0||.769|
|13.||San Diego Chargers||5||8||0||.385|
|14.||New York Jets||4||10||0||.286|
* - Current Division Leader