Win and they're in

The story this week is similar to the one from last week. And that is a good thing.

If the Steelers want to make it to the postseason, first and foremost they must take care of their own business.

And here it is, plain and simple. If the Steelers defeat the Baltimore Ravens on Christmas Day they win the AFC North and secure a playoff berth.

Now, as we all know, there is nothing simple about that. It's going to be a classic, AFC North battle between two teams that are fighting for their playoff lives. But a Steelers win would put them at 10-5, and drop the Ravens to 8-7, with one game remaining in the season.

There are other scenarios that could come in to play, but right now the straightest path is defeating the Ravens at Heinz Field on Christmas Day.  

The Steelers (9-5) are in first place in the AFC North coming off a win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens are right on the Steelers tail at 8-6, after holding on to beat the Philadelphia Eagles.  

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, with the remaining schedules for each team in the playoff race, and the playoff picture as of Dec. 24.

Division Leaders
AFC East - New England Patriots: 13-2 – at Miami (10-5)
AFC West - Oakland Raiders: 12-3 – at Denver (8-6)
AFC North - Pittsburgh Steelers: 9-5 – Baltimore (8-6), Cleveland (1-14)
AFC South - Houston Texans: 9-6 – at Tennessee (8-7)

Wild Card Race
Kansas City Chiefs: 10-4 –Denver (8-6), at San Diego (5-10)
Miami Dolphins: 10-5 – at Buffalo (7-8), New England (13-2)

In The Hunt
Baltimore Ravens:8-6 – at Pittsburgh (9-5), at Cincinnati (5-9-1)
Tennessee Titans: 8-7 – Houston (9-6)
Denver Broncos: 8-6 –at Kansas City (10-4), Oakland (12-3)
* New England clinched AFC East and first-round bye
* Oakland clinches a playoff berth

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