2014 Steelers season scenarios: Steelers finish 6-0 in AFC North division play

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing 2013 with a 4-2 divisional record, could it be possible that the Steelers finish 2014 with a perfect record in divisional play?

Scenario: The Pittsburgh Steelers finish 2014 with a 6-0 record in divisional play.

Why it will happen: The Steelers finished 2013 with a 4-2 record in the division. Those two losses were to the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night and Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. Both of those games could have been won by the Steelers had a few plays gone their way.

In 2014, the Steelers are looking at an improved roster, and a division that is ripe for the taking. Winning the division is one thing, but can the Steelers sweep the North en route to their first playoff appearance in three seasons? Look at the teams that reside in the AFC North and you see that this is possible.

The Cleveland Browns are a team that is improved, but is still a team that will be looking up at the Steelers within the division. The Ravens and the Bengals will be Pittsburgh's stiffest competition within the division and could certainly ruin this scenario.

The Steelers are a team that will have a drastically different look to their game in 2014, and will cause headaches for division opponents with new weapons, speed and athleticism that hasn't been seen since the last time the Steelers were in the Super Bowl, and that could be the difference within this scenario.

Players like Dri Archer, Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt could bring a new dimension to this team that hasn't been seen in the division, and ultimately could have the Steelers sweeping the division.

Why it won't happen: The Steelers have historically been a solid division team and typically are .500 or better every year within the AFC North, and when it comes to the North, it is rare that anyone other than the Browns are swept during the season.

It is nearly a certainty that the Ravens and Steelers will split the season series between these bitter rivals. Only a couple times in the last decade have the Steelers or Ravens won both of the games between the two in a particular season. The Bengals are in the same boat, where Andy Dalton and A.J. Green always seem to find a way to beat the Steelers once during the season.

Some might say that the division has gotten weaker, but games against division rivals, even Cleveland, are no easy W's on the schedule. It won't be a simple task for the Steelers to go 6-0 in the division, and most likely will mean the Steelers will drop at least one divisional game in 2014.

Keys: The Steelers winning all of their divisional games will come down to defense. The Steelers offense should be able to score on anyone this year if they stay healthy and the weapons are utilized properly on offense. The AFC North is known for defense, and it will be the defense that gave up 115 yards per game rushing last year and was porous in the passing game in 2013 that will need to improve to make this scenario a reality. Getting after the quarterback will be the number one priority for the Steelers this season, which will cause turnovers and put Ben Roethlisberger back on the field to score more points. When a scenario is as daunting as a 6-0 AFC North record, it's all about defense that will make it happen.

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