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AFC Playoff Scenario: On paper, the Steelers’ road to an AFC North title is simple

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The Pittsburgh Steelers could clinch their third straight AFC North crown this weekend, but it won’t be easy.

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 15 win over the New England Patriots was huge for many reasons. One of those reasons was it kept Pittsburgh’s slim half-game lead in the AFC North in tact. Another reason the win over the Patriots was huge was how it made the team’s clinching scenario for the AFC North simple — at least on paper.

If the Steelers are able to beat the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans in Week 16, and the Baltimore Ravens lose to the Los Angeles Chargers, the Steelers would become the first team since realignment to win the AFC North three times in a row.

What makes this situation extremely interesting is the timing of the schedule. The Ravens play the Chargers on Saturday night in Week 16, with the Steelers playing the Saints on Sunday afternoon.

Therefore, when the Steelers’ heads hit their pillows on Saturday night they will know whether their game vs. New Orleans will be for the division crown, and a clinched playoff berth, or if the game will be for their playoff lives.

While we will break down all scenarios if the Steelers lose in Week 16 later in the week, if the Ravens beat the Chargers, and the Steelers fall to the Saints, Pittsburgh would then need the Tennessee Titans, who also play on Saturday, and Indianapolis Colts to both lose to help them secure a Wild Card spot in the AFC Playoff Picture.

We are getting ahead of ourselves here, because if the Steelers win the remainder of their games, at New Orleans and vs. the Cincinnati Bengals, nothing else matters.

Simple...

...on paper.