AFC Playoff Picture: Cincinnati clinches with a win at Pittsburgh

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers remain alive for an AFC Wild Card spot as well as an outside shot at a divisional championship with a few wins and a few Ravens losses. They'll have to start by beating the Bengals at home today. Cincinnati ends Pittsburgh's season and clinches a postseason berth with a win over the Steelers.

A Week 16 battle between two teams that qualified for the postseason in 2011 could determine the fate of each of them as the 2012 season winds down.

A Cincinnati win over Pittsburgh at Heinz Field today would give the Bengals its second consecutive playoff berth. A Steelers victory won't clinch anything, but it would put them in a position to advance to the postseason for the third consecutive year with a win over Cleveland in Pittsburgh next week.

It's obviously a game of critical importance to both teams, but the manner in which they arrived to Week 16 is much different from one team to the next.

The Steelers won four consecutive games from Weeks 7 through 10, including a 24-17 win over the Bengals in Cincinnati. Since Week 10, though, the Steelers have lost four of five games and have suffered setbacks through injuries on both sides of the ball.

The Bengals have won five of their last six games, having taken their losing streak earlier in the season. Their revamped rushing attack and steadily improving defensive play makes the Bengals a tough out in the AFC.

It's a long-standing rivalry between two teams going in different directions heading into their game today. The Steelers started their last winning streak with a huge win on Monday Night Football over the Bengals, and could make a move to heat up heading into the playoffs with a strong performance.


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